The aim of this paper is to explore the implications of the institutional environment on end-of-life product recovery capabilities of manufacturing firms. The research takes an exploratory case study approach focusing on three producers and two firms in each of their recovery supply chains. The research finds that process capabilities for product recovery are linked to, but distinct from, capabilities for managing the institutional environment. Coercive pressure to adopt product recovery constrains the choices firms can make in terms of network structure and the development of capabilities. Where manufactures face uncertainty in their institutional environments and adopt a mimetic approach, the outcomes can be suboptimal.