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Keywords:

  • supply chain relationships;
  • relational multiplexity;
  • process multiplexity;
  • supply chain triads

Both supply chain relationships and process connections between organizational units have been studied in business research, to enhance the understanding of supply chain integration, and to explore the differential outcomes of both types of connections for business and functional performance. However, the extant research remains deficient in two ways: within individual studies, researchers have operationalized supply chain connectivity unidimensionally, with the concept of connectivity constrained to either social relations or operational/process ties while disregarding the other viewpoint. Additionally, researchers have persistently designed studies to evaluate dyadic structures, while foregoing the larger, more intricate structures representative of complex supply chains. We address these issues by modeling supply chain connectivity as having multiple relational- and process-based threads comprising linkages, and by empirically testing a set of theorized relationships describing vertical triadic supply chain networks (manufacturer, broker, retailer) within the U.S. restaurant industry. We find that increased supply chain connectivity improves chain performance, but this improvement is more directly attributable to process-based linkages than relational linkages, which impact performance only through the process mediator variable, suggesting that current theories of interorganizational relationalism may lack complete conceptualization. Implications of these findings for managers and the academy are highlighted, and areas of follow-on research are discussed.