Recent research in institutional theory has given prominence to actor’s agency in strategically responding to institutional pressures, and shaping institutions themselves. Nevertheless, very little attention has been paid to how resource-deprived actors cope with complex institutional demands. In this study, we make a major contribution to advancing theory on strategic responses to institutional pressures among resource-deprived actors through a detailed analysis of the mechanisms that small developing world suppliers employ to manage the often conflicting institutional demands they face regarding labour practices. Through this analysis, we establish a typology of perception, of and response to, institutional pressures that reflects the unique circumstances of resource-deprived actors, and theorise a number of proposals regarding the circumstances in which these mechanisms are deployed. In so doing, we contribute significantly to institutional theory, and also to empirical understanding of supplier behaviour in developing countries.