The nature and patterns of vertical work relationships between buyers and suppliers is a key subject of inquiry in organization and management research. However, the mechanisms conducive to transforming transaction-based relationships into commitment-based relationships remain elusive. Although commitment-based relationships can produce various outcomes, little is known about whether and how these work relationships build and facilitate inter-organizational capabilities and their performance implications. This article presents a theoretical model that clarifies the micro socio-psychological mechanisms by which buyers and suppliers can develop inter-organizational learning agility. By drawing on theoretical insights in the areas of social exchange, micro-foundations, positive work relationships, commitment, and dynamic capabilities, it suggests that three mechanisms – respectful engagement, rich and ongoing communication, and advice seeking and giving – can transition buyer-supplier relations from transactional ties to commitment-based ties. It is argued that relationship commitment is a key to building inter-organizational learning agility by enacting three mechanisms: psychological availability, generativity and reflective reframing. The discussion centers on the fundamentals for developing this stream of research.
- Buyer-supplier work relationships
- Inter-organizational learning agility
- Relationship commitment
- Vertical relationships