The paper presents evidence of a gap between the competition‐to‐co‐operation narrative of the purchasing, marketing and supply chain management fields and the negotiating practice of professional buyers. Drawing on evidence from negotiation theory and practice, it argues that the discovered buyer behaviour is entirely rational. A plea is made for the study of negotiation in the supply chain management field, and it concludes that the current narrative, describing a journey from uninformed adversarial buyer‐supplier attitudes towards enlightened co‐operative relations in chains, may be more fictional than factual.
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