begun to note the need for a more relational research focus (Gelfand et al., 2006; Herbst et al.,
2011; Thomas et al., 2013, 2015) in supply chain research. In this study, we will begin the
process of addressing this research gap by examining relational negotiation outcomes in the
context of ongoing buyer-supplier relationships.
Negotiation research has been popular for over 50 years and has been influenced by a
variety of different fields such as economics (Nash, 1950, 1953), social psychology (Barry
and Oliver, 1996; Rubin and Brown, 1975), organizational behavior (Thompson et al., 2010),
marketing (Herbst et al., 2011), operations management (Ribbink and Grimm, 2014), and
supply chain management (Zachariassen, 2008). This research will focus on the important
relationship between negotiation strategy use and negotiation outcomes. The study includes
two negotiation strategies, win-win and win-lose, that are common in today’s supply chain
(Ramsay, 2004; Thomas et al., 2015).
Win-win negotiators are characterized as desiring to learn information about their
partner’s goals,focusing on realizing joint benefits, and strengtheninglong-term relationships
(Mintu-Wimsatt and Graham, 2004; Zachariassen, 2008). Win-lose negotiators typically
exhibit a moreself-serving focus and oftenrefrain from exchanging information (Calhoun and
Smith, 1999). Given the supply chain management’s focus onrelationship building, the use of
a win-win negotiation strategy has been strongly encouraged for buyers and suppliers
(Zachariassen, 2008). However, the frequency of win-win negotiation strategy use has been
challenged. Some research indicates that a win-lose negotiation strategy is actually more
common in supply chain negotiations than research has suggested (Ramsay, 2004).
While the relative success of various negotiation strategies have long been studied in a
variety of disciplines, notable gaps remain in understanding when it comes to incorporating
the real-life complexity inherent in supply chain negotiations (Zachariassen, 2008;
Herbst et al., 2011). Based on the gaps identified from studying previous research, the
following research question was developed:
RQ1. How are supply chain relationships effected by the use of different types of
This research seeks to make three contributions: the use of a relational context instead of a
discrete transaction approach, theidentification of supply chain specificrelational negotiation
outcomes, and the relational impact of win-win vs win-lose negotiation strategies.
Building on an emerging research stream focused on the impact of different types of
negotiation strategies on the ongoing, relational aspect of supply chain negotiations
(Thomas et al., 2013; Thomas et al., 2015), this study utilizes an initiation multi-method
research approach as suggested by Davis et al. (2011). An initiation research design uses
multiple studies and methods, but they are weighted differently (Davis et al., 2011). The first
study initiates the research and informs the second study. While results from both studies
are reported, the majority of the discussion is on the second study. For this research, the first
study involves exploratory in-depth interviews with experienced supply chain professionals
from diverse industry backgrounds. The findings from this study are used to identify and
infuse relevant and important relational variables into the main study. The second
main study is a scenario-based experiment with dependent variables (relational
negotiation outcomes) drawn from the first study combined with the literature on supply
chain relationships, negotiation strategies, and the social exchange theory (SET).
Research hypotheses are presented and discussed. The study concludes with a statement
regarding research limitations and directions for further study.
Buyers and suppliers negotiate essential activities like product selection, pricing, payment
terms, shelf space, volume discounts, carrier selection, and markdown allowances.