Managing Buyer‐Supplier Conflicts: The Effect of Buyer Openness And Directness On A Supplier's Willingness to Adapt

Niels J. Pulles*, Raymond Loohuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
186 Downloads (Pure)


Conflict has received much attention in the supply chain management literature, as it appears to be an inevitable aspect of buyer–supplier relationships. While previous studies mainly focused on preventing or mitigating conflict, this study examines the micro‐processes of buyer–supplier conflicts and the mechanisms that facilitate functional conflict processes. Specifically, we examine how a buyer’s conflict expression in the way disagreements are conveyed influences a supplier’s willingness to adapt its internal processes in favor of the buyer. By means of a multi‐method, sequential research design, combining insights from a case study and a scenario‐based experiment, we found that expressions of entrenchment by the buyer negatively affect supplier adaptation. In addition, a buyer that is direct, while at the same time expressing openness to the supplier’s position, is shown to positively influence supplier adaptation. We also demonstrate the mediating effects of the supplier’s emotions in these relationships. Our findings contribute to the supply chain literature by demonstrating the relevance of conflict expression in enabling adaptive processes. In addition, our insights into the interplay between different expression dimensions extend conflict expression theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65–81
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of supply chain management
Issue number4
Early online date9 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Behavioral supply management
  • Buyer/supplier relationships
  • Experimental design


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