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Theorizing coordination, collaboration and integration in multi-sourcing triads (B3B triads)

Ilias Vlachos (La Rochelle Business School – Excelia Group, La Rochelle, France)
Selvie Carolin Dyra (Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 21 January 2020

Issue publication date: 8 April 2020



Supply chains are becoming more complex and uncertain, yet existing theories are predominately based on empirical research of dyads overlooking triadic settings. This study aims to bridge the gap between supply chain theories and praxis, this study examined multi-sourcing triads in terms of coordination, collaboration and integration.


Transaction cost economics, resource-based view in conjunction with social capital theory and agency theory were used to develop a research framework. Abductive, comparative research examined four triads. The triads comprised four retailers (EU, USA, Japan and one with a global presence), one third-party logistics provider (3PL) and 103 suppliers in textiles and the clothing industry.


All multi-sourcing triads achieved efficient coordination via network configuration showing varying degrees of collaboration and integration. Three research propositions were developed as follows: transaction complexity and dynamics necessitate triad coordination and control by the 3PL; relational and structural embeddedness emerge when actors invest in triad-specific resources and capabilities; information, relational and structural asymmetries may trigger bridge transfer and affect triad integration and performance.

Research limitations/implications

Empirical research on multi-sourcing triads complements existing research on logistics and service, transitive triads to uncover how triad coordination, embeddedness and power asymmetries affect supply chain performance. Future studies should examine the interrelationships between triad embeddedness, asymmetries and relational capital.

Practical implications

Compared to logistics or service triads, B3B triads excel in relational and structural embeddedness and offer unique production-distribution solutions that create value to end-consumers and triad actors.


B3B triads are a unique conceptualization in supply chain management that extends the concepts of logistics triads and service triads.



Vlachos, I. and Dyra, S.C. (2020), "Theorizing coordination, collaboration and integration in multi-sourcing triads (B3B triads)", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 285-300.



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