Guiding buyer-supplier relationships through supply chain disruptions: a study of South African 3PLs and clients

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Even though a lot of attention has been directed towards risk management, disruptions are inevitably present within supply chains and should therefore be successfully managed if organizations are to thrive in today’s ever-changing world. How organizations respond to these disruptions has an impact on the relationship between the parties involved. This study explored what factors influenced buyer-supplier relationships in either a strengthening or weakening manner within a disruption context. A generic qualitative research approach was used to gather data by conducting semi-structured interviews with 24 participants that consisted of 3PLs and clients who have experienced a recent disruption between each other. This study reported on the relational factors within pre-, during- and post- disruption phases. A total of 18 strengthening factors were identified with the majority being classified into the during-disruption phase. The factors that added to existing disruption literature included having a mutual business understanding, problem solving ability and an introspective focus when resolving disruptions. Twelve weakening factors emerged from the data. Common business problems, a lack of, or weak prior relationship, no mutual business understanding and the occurrence and late detection of the disruption are novel findings. Practitioners gain value from this study as it equips them to manage supply chain disruptions successfully by highlighting important strengthening and weakening relational factors to consider when working with supply chain members to resolve disruptions. The study contributes to the body of knowledge by being one of the first empirical studies conducted on the relational effects of supply chain disruptions in a developing country context.

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    • Table 1. Factors influencing buyer-supplier relationships
    • Table 2. Summary of participants
    • Table 3. Factors strengthening the buyer-supplier relationship
    • Table 4. Factors weakening the buyer-supplier relationship