Benchmarking Supplier Development: An Empirical Case Study of Validating a Framework to Improve Buyer-Supplier Relationship

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In today’s dynamic business environment, firms are required to utilize efficiently and effectively all the useful resources to gain competitive advantage. Supplier development has evolved as an important strategic instrument to improve buyer supplier relationships. For that reason, this study focuses on providing the strategic significance of supplier development approaches to improve business relationships. By using qualitative research method, an integrated framework of supplier development and buyer-supplier relationship development has been tested and validated in a Finnish case company to provide empirical evidence. It particularly investigates how supplier development approaches can develop buyer-supplier relationships. The study present a set of propositions that identify significant supplier development approaches critical for the development of buyer-supplier relationships and develop a theoretical framework that specifies how these different supplier development approaches support in order to strengthen the relationships. The results are produced from an in-depth case study by implementing the proposed research framework. The findings reveal that supplier development strategies i.e., supplier incentives and direct involvements strongly effect in developing buyer-supplier relationships. Further research may focus on considering in-depth investigation of trust and communication factors along with propositions developed in the study to find out general applicability in dynamic business environment. Proposed integrated framework along with propositions is a unique combination of useful solutions for tactical and strategic management’s decision making and also valid for academic researchers to develop supplier development theories.

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