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Relational impact of buyer–supplier dyads on sustainable purchasing and supply management: a proximity perspective

Thierry Houé (Department of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems, ICN Business School, University of Lorraine, CEREFIGE, Nancy, France)
David Duchamp (Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, ICN Business School, University of Lorraine, CEREFIGE, Nancy, France)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 3 November 2020

Issue publication date: 29 April 2021




Sustainable purchasing and supply management (SPSM) is a lever of sustainable development for companies and remains an interesting research issue that can be analysed from various perspectives. By considering the polymorphic concept of proximity as a theoretical support, this research studies the buyer–supplier dyad and aims to answer the following question. How does the diversity of buyer–supplier dyad relationships influence the SPSM of direct and indirect purchases within a manufacturing company?


The authors used a qualitative approach founded on a matrix analysis to describe buyer–supplier relationships through the prism of the proximity concept. The field of study consists in a single case with embedded units including a manufacturing company and a sample of 13 suppliers of direct and indirect purchases.


The research reveals diverse combinations of proximities that characterise relationships between a buyer and suppliers of several purchasing categories. This diversity of relational contexts influences SPSM in different ways. The authors highlight three SPSM approaches labelled contractual, relational and embedded and describe practices carried out with suppliers as part of the different relational profiles.

Research limitations/implications

The research is developed in a single perspective. To ensure that it can be generalised, it should be applied in other contexts supported by new case studies.

Practical implications

The research provides practitioners with guidelines on building successful buyer–supplier partnerships in a sustainable view. The authors’ findings aid managerial decision-making by validating the necessity of adapting SPSM depending on buyer–supplier relational situations.


This paper offers an original study angle on buyer–supplier relationships based on a proximity analysis. The authors’ research confirms the variety of sustainable purchasing relationships underlined by the literature and can advance the portfolio approach to sustainable purchasing.



The authors sincerely thank Professor Britta Gammelgaard for her continuous support, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


Houé, T. and Duchamp, D. (2021), "Relational impact of buyer–supplier dyads on sustainable purchasing and supply management: a proximity perspective", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 567-591.



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