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Towards a classification of supply chain relationships: a routine based perspective

Muhammad Usman Ahmed (School of Business, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York, USA)
Mehmet Murat Kristal (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Mark Pagell (School of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Thomas F. Gattiker (College of Business, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




This paper studies buyer–supplier relationships (BSRs) by taking a routine-based approach and develops a taxonomy of BSRs. Recent advances in the BSR literature have shown that firms implement a host of diverse routines, called integrative practices, with their supply chain partners. Relationships differ based on what integrative practices are present in them. This paper aims to develop a taxonomy of supply chain relationships based on integrative practices measured at the relationship level.


The authors use survey data collected from North American manufacturers to establish the measurement properties of new relationship level constructs that represent different aspects of integration. Cluster analysis is used with these new constructs to develop a taxonomy of supply chain relationships. Regression and bootstrapping techniques are used to establish the predictive validity and stability of the taxonomy.


The results show four distinct types of relationships. On comparison, the authors find salient differences between their results and past classifications. As a result of taking a routine-based multidimensional view of integration, the authors find two types of relationships that have not been discovered by past taxonomies.


The new relationship level constructs will allow academics to have greater precision in their research questions on BSRs, as not all aspects of integration behave in the same manner. The four types of relationships identified by this study provide a useful framework to manage supply chain relationships for practitioners.



Ahmed, M.U., Kristal, M.M., Pagell, M. and Gattiker, T.F. (2017), "Towards a classification of supply chain relationships: a routine based perspective", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 341-374.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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