Exploring transactions between supply chain entities : a psychological study of buyer-supplier relationships
The research presented in this thesis has focussed on exploring buyer- supplier relationships from a human perspective. To date, researchers across the globe have studied buyer-supplier relationships and endeavoured to find means to try to make them better. This has led to many new relationship development programmes initiated by companies and new concepts introduced by academics for the betterment of buyersupplier relationships. The focus of academics has been in trying to study buyersupplier relationships from various factors, viz. power, opportunistic behaviour, unethical behaviour, partnerships, collaborations, etc. All these endeavours have focussed on using technology or business processes in order to streamline operations and create environments, which would foster partnerships or collaborations. One aspect not usually given prominence in these studies has been the presence of humans in the relationship as representatives of the transacting companies. Giving this more focus, the researcher feels that organisational culture plays a very strong role in the way organisations operate, and when two organisations transact with each other the individual culture is bound to play a role in the way the transaction is conducted. The individual culture of the organisation also depends upon the humans in the organisation. Since, the focus of the research was on exploring the buyer-supplier relationships from a human perspective, the research sought this perspective from people working in purchasing or sales functions in different companies. The information was collected by conducting "Phenomenological Interviews" with focus on "critical incidents" affecting the relationship. The information was analysed for themes which led to the need to study buyer-supplier relationships from two perspectives: 1) game-like behaviour, 2) discretion, humans have in the relationship. The presence of game-like behaviour and humans in the relationship led the researcher to study the concepts of "Transactional Analysis" and check for the feasibility to transfer the concepts from a therapeutic setting to buyer- supplier relationships. The research has been successful in exploring issues affecting buyer-supplier relationships. A methodology for aligning supply chains by taking into account human issues has been proposed. The methodology comprises a relationship framework that is used for studying buyer-supplier relationships on a macro- level based on the levels of satisfaction the entities have with each other. Since high levels of dissatisfaction lead to various change- inducing transactions or game-like behaviour between the entities, the framework identifies the status of the relationship, and can be used to gauge what's going to happen to it, once the transaction is over. The concepts of Transactional Analysis and the tools associated with it, viz. Drama Triangle analysis and structural modelling are useful in studying the dynamics of the transactions from the human perspective and also from a psychological perspective.