Supplier Partnerships as Strategy

  • Brian Leavy


The partnership approach to supplier relations is now a very common feature in many industries. This is due in large part to the phenomenal success of the ‘world class manufacturing’ (Schonberger, 1985), and ‘lean production’ crusades (Womack et al., 1990; Womack and Jones, 1994) over the last two decades, which have drawn their inspiration from the proven competitive practices of leading Japanese companies (Dyer and Ouchi, 1993). One of the by-products of this success has been the ever-widening faith in the virtues of supplier partnering

The purpose of this article is to present a strategic perspective on supplier partnering to help companies to more critically assess the opportunities and risks associated with the adoption of the partnering approach. The article begins by contrasting the underlying rationale for supplier partnering with the more traditional arm’s length approach to buyer-supplier relations. Most companies with aspirations to world class manufacturing standards are now adopting the partnering approach. The practices of the following companies are included in this article: Amdahl; Apple; Bennetton; Digital Equipment Corporation; General Motors; Intel; Marks and Spencer; Toyota; Wal-Mart.


Supply Chain Switching Cost Digital Equipment Corporation Supply Relation Lean Production 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Leavy
    • 1
  1. 1.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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