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Paper info: Business Relationship Dissolution: Empirical Insights from UK Supermarket Supply Chains


Business Relationship Dissolution: Empirical Insights from UK Supermarket Supply Chains


Andrew Fearne, Ioanna-Maria Gedeon and Nigel Poole

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.


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The purpose of this paper is to understand why and how relationships end within UK supermarket supply chains. While the bias towards the study of the positive side of business relationships has been addressed in some respect by those few researchers who study the dissolution of business relationships there is still need for further research, especially in business-to-business relationships beyond the services context. In this paper we therefore present the dissolution of various business relationships between UK food retailers and their suppliers distinguishing the triggers of the dissolution, the way the trigger influenced the relationship, why certain relationships were more prone to end, the role of personal and organisational factors in the dissolution of business relationships and finally the factors that tried to prevent dissolution from happening but without success.The study developed a framework to depict the dissolution process in UK supermarket supply chains using insights from past studies. Based on qualitative evidence from eleven business relationships it modifies and improves the initially developed framework. The findings of the study complement existing dissolution research on the way theoretical constructs (e.g. trigger, predisposing factors, personal and organisational factors) promote or inhibit relationship dissolution. More importantly, the findings of the study provide empirical evidence from a new context to extend the understanding of predisposing factors, the effect of people and personal relationships on dissolution, the interplay of people and business in dissolution and the influence of the network on dissolution. It is suggested that this paper makes a useful contribution to business relationship dissolution research.