Logistics Research

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 231–243 | Cite as

Value-creating relationships: focusing on the human level

  • Alexander Bode
  • Katja MüllerEmail author
Original Paper


Enhancing a firm’s value creation is one of today’s most discussed topics in management practice and science. Many approaches start by enhancing value creation while looking at operations and/or logistics of a firm, for example, a lean production. Furthermore, there is an increasing trend for cooperation. Close business-partner relationships are necessary while facing the challenges of changing business environments, inherent complexity, and dynamics of markets. We suggest that while the trade-off between competition and cooperation has to be decided on an organizational level, the individual level is crucial for value creation and success within cooperative forms of business. According to the call for micro-foundation, we will show how value creation can be improved within business-partner relationships by looking at the social behavior of individuals and human-level approaches. Accordingly, the overarching question in this paper is: Which models can be used for improving business-partner relationships aiming at an increasing value creation within cooperation. Answering this question, we consider people-oriented management approaches as a basis for the emphasis of the human level within cooperation, arguing that social exchange theory can complement the existing resource-based and relational view. As a result, we develop a micro-foundation framework including humans and their individual assets, exchange resources, and characteristics of the relationships as impact factors for value-creating relationships. Based on this literature-based investigation, we derive implications for further research and management practice.


Business-partner relationships Value creation Micro-foundation Social exchange theory People orientation Resource-based and relational view 



We would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for his/her valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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