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Investigating the meaning of supplier-manufacturer partnerships : an exploratory study

Lemke, Fred and Goffin, Keith and Szwejczewski, Marek (2003) Investigating the meaning of supplier-manufacturer partnerships : an exploratory study. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 33 (1). pp. 12-35. ISSN 0960-0035

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Supplier partnerships can be the key in enhancing the performance of manufacturing companies. Consequently, partnership has been strongly recommended by academics and practitioners alike. Surprisingly, the concept of partnership is only poorly understood. Many authors have identified the advantages that it can bring but far less has been published on the attributes of partnership itself. What is known is that partnerships are “close” relationships and thus, the level of relationship closeness is an appropriate angle for exploring supplier partnerships. Research was conducted using the repertory grid technique with an exploratory sample of ten managers from four German engineering companies. It revealed that supplier partnerships are very different from other forms of relationship and identified five distinct attributes of partnerships. These findings have a number of implications for both practitioners and research.