n Acta Commercii - The role of personal relationships between buyers and suppliers of third-party logistics services : a South African perspective : original research

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2413-1903
  • E-ISSN: 1684-1999



Personal relationships within the context of supply chain management is one of the least understood and researched areas in this field.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the complexities relating to the interaction between buyers and suppliers of logistics services when personal relationships are involved.
A descriptive qualitative research strategy was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 suppliers and 8 buyers of logistic services within the South African third-party logistics industry.
The main findings indicate several benefits related to building personal relationships with a buyer or supplier of logistics services. These benefits include enhanced personal and business understanding, enhanced communication, enhanced trust, increased business volume, ease of doing business, enhanced problem-solving abilities, ease of conflict resolution and risk mitigation. Subsequently, aspects affecting the nature of the personal relationship were also identified. These include gender, relationship asymmetry, and the ability to adapt to different personalities.
A long-term commitment towards a buyer or supplier was identified as essential in order to reap the associated benefits of forming personal relationships.
The main theoretical contribution of this study can be argued as empirically testing an existing personal relationship framework, confirming the transferability of the framework. Testing the framework in a different context yielded four additional benefits of personal relationships, four supplementary factors influencing the interaction between buyers and suppliers and an additional aspect influencing the nature of personal relationships, thus expanding the body of knowledge of this topic.

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