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THE ROLE OF PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN FACILITATING SUPPLY CHAIN COMMUNICATIONS: A QUALITATIVE STUDY

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Abstract

While the importance of communication between companies within the supply chain has been well established in the literature, a number of gaps remain pertaining to how individual-level employee relationships influence firm-to-firm communications. One such gap in the literature represents the focus of the current study; little research has addressed the role of nonwork focused personal relationships (i.e., friendships) formed between employees of supply chain partner firms, and specifically how such relationships impact business-related communication processes. Because research in this area is limited, and qualitative methods are considered most appropriate to assess emergent research phenomena, grounded theory building (Strauss and Corbin 1990) via semi-structured interviews was undertaken. The results reveal that interpersonal relationships facilitate business communications through four emergent process themes. Our analysis thus allows us to develop initial theory related to how two different personal social network layers – personal relationships and interorganizational communications – relate within supply chain settings. Implications for future research are also considered.

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