Niklas Myhr

Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, DC, USA, and

Robert E. Spekman

The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA


Purpose - To investigate how supply-chain partners can achieve collaboration under varying circumstances (transactional types) by developing trust-based social foundations and by utilizing electronically mediated exchange.

Design/methodology/approach - A conceptual framework illustrates the roles of trust and electronically mediated exchange in achieving collaboration and its hypotheses are tested with a sample of 157 supply-chain relationships of international subsidiaries of Nordic multinational corporations (MNCs).

Findings - Finds that collaborative partnerships can be achieved both via trust and through electronically mediated exchange. Results also indicate that electronically mediated exchange more readily enhances collaboration in exchange relationships involving standardized products, while trust plays a larger role when customized products are being exchanged.

Research limitations/implications - The transactional type involved impacts the relative effectiveness of trust and electronically mediated exchange in achieving collaboration. This finding might stimulate research of the impact of other contextual factors. Limitations include that only managers on one side of inter-organizational dyads were surveyed.

Practical implications - Practicing managers need to prioritize the time and effort they spend developing partnerships. While both trust and electronically mediated exchange play pivotal roles in fostering collaboration, managers involved in the exchange of standardized products can place a relative emphasis on electronically mediated exchange, while trust is of higher importance when customized products are being exchanged. Originality/value - This paper examines the complex interplay of trust and electronically mediated exchange in achieving collaborative supply-chain partnerships and offers guidance to practicing managers as well as implications of theoretical interest to academics.

Keywords Supply chain management, Electronic commerce, Communication technologies, Buyer-seller relationships, Strategic alliances, Relationship marketing

Paper type Research paper

An executive summary for managers and executive readers can be found at the end of this issue.

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