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Keywords:

  • multi-tier supply chain management;
  • buyer/supplier relationships;
  • triadic relationships;
  • partnering;
  • supplier management;
  • networks;
  • case studies;
  • qualitative data analysis;
  • inductive research

Recent trends toward outsourcing and global sourcing have created longer, more complex and more fragmented supply chains. In this research, we aim to instigate a theoretical development of multi-tier supply chain (MSC) management by adopting an inductive case study research design. Following a multiple case research design, we investigate three-tier supply chains to develop a theory of MSC management. Each of the investigated supply chains consists of a buyer, supplier and supplier's supplier. Based on the case studies, propositions are built concerning how MSCs operate. As an underlying methodology, we first conduct a within-case analysis and then expand that analysis to the cross-case context. The results show the impact that the dynamics of the MSC have on power balance, structure, interdependence and relationship stability inherent in MSCs.