Relationship Quality in Fish Value Chains: Buyer–Supplier Management in the Pangasius Industry, Vietnam

  • Le Nguyen Doan KhoiEmail author
  • Nguyen Phu Son
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 45)


This study deals with the importance of investment and trust in designing a high-quality, export-oriented fish value chain. It analyzes relationship quality in the Pangasius industry in order to improve product quality through closer supply-chain coordination. According to findings from several research streams, we argue that relationship quality must be conceptualized as a function of trust and investment. Consequently, we derived a conceptual model that links commitment and trust to relationship quality. The analysis brings together assumptions and concepts from a variety of sources ranging from Porter’s value chain to transaction-cost economics to institutional economics.

To verify the applicability of the model, we conducted a survey in the Pangasius industry of Vietnam. The data were obtained from a sample of 120 Pangasius farmers and 5 Pangasius processing/export firms in the Mekong River Delta (MRD), Vietnam. Each interview made was taped and properly transcribed. We collected relevant information by interviewing the managers of four processing/export firms. In addition, we consulted secondary data by making use of documentary information, archival records from relevant organizations, and secondary sources. Hence, using different sources of evidence, we were able to triangulate our findings on the main issues under study.


Relationship quality Trust Transaction-specific investments Value chain 



The study is financed by SEARCA Seed Fund for Strategic Research and Training Program. The authors would like to express their deepest gratitude and special thanks to SEARCA for the research grant.


  1. Anderson J, Hakansson H, Johanson J (1994) Dyadic business relationship within a business network context. J Marketing 58:22–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boersma M, Buckley P, Ghauri P (2003) Trust in international joint venture relationships. J Bus Res 56:1031–1042CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boger S (2001) Quality and contractual choice: a transaction cost approach to the polish hog market. Eur Rev Agric Econ 19:327–343Google Scholar
  4. Doney PM, Cannon JP (1997) An examination of the nature of trust in buyer-seller relationships. J Marketing 61:35–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dryer JH (1996) Specialized supplier networks as a source of competitive advantage: evidence from the auto industry. Strategic Manage J 17:271–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Easton G, Araujo L (1994) Market exchange, social structures and time. Eur J Marketing 28:72–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Forsgren M, Hagg I, Hakansson H, Mattsson L (1995) Firms in networks: a new perspective on competitive power. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Oeceomiae Negotiorum, No. 38, Uppsala University, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  8. Ghauri P, Gronhaug K, Kristianslund I (1995) Research methods in business studies, a practical guide. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  9. Globefish (2008) Pangasius market reportGoogle Scholar
  10. Grabher G (1993) The embedded firm: on the socioeconomics of industrial networks. Routledge, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Granovetter MS (1985) Economic action and social structure: the problem of embeddedness. Am J Sociol 91:481–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gulati R (1995) Social structure and alliance formation pattern: a longitudinal analysis. Adm Sci Q 40:619–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hagg I, Johanson J (1982) Foretag I natverk [Firms in networks]. SNS, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  14. Hakansson H, Johanson J (1992) A model of industrial networks. In: Axelsson B, Easton G (eds) Industrial networks: a new view of reality. Routledge, London, pp 32–46Google Scholar
  15. Hakansson H, Johanson I (1993) The network as a governance structure: inter-firm cooperation beyond markets and hierarchies. In: Graber G (ed) The embedded firm: on the socioeconomics of industrial networks. Routledge, London, pp 36–51Google Scholar
  16. Hakansson H, Snehota I (1995) Developing relationships in business networks. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Han J. et al (2006) Vertical coordination, quality management and firm performance of the pork processing industry in China. In international agri-food chains and networks, management and organization, Wageningen, the Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 319–32Google Scholar
  18. Henson SJ, Brouder A-M, Mitullah W (2000) Food safety requirements and food exports from developing countries: the case of fish exports from Kenya to the European Union. Am J Agr Econ 82:1159–1169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hobbs JE, Young LM (2001) Vertical linkages in agri-food supply chains in Canada and the United States. Research and analysis directorate policy branch, agriculture and agri-food Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  20. Jarillo J (1988) On strategic networks. Strategic Manage J 9:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johanson J, Mattsson LG (1987) Inter-organisational relations in industrial systems – a network approach compared with the transaction cost approach. Int Stud Manage Organ 17:34–48Google Scholar
  22. Kaplinsky R, Morris M (2000) A handbook for value chain research, prepared for the IDRC. Sussex: institute of development studiesGoogle Scholar
  23. Key N, Runsten D (1999) Contract farming, smallholders, and rural development in Latin America: The organization of agro-processing firms and the scale of out grower production. World Development 27(2):381–401Google Scholar
  24. McCormick D (1999) African enterprise clusters and industrialization: theory and reality. World Dev 27:1531–1551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Miles MB, Huberman M (1992) Qualitative data analysis: an expanded sourcebook, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SageGoogle Scholar
  26. Mishra AK (1996) Organizational response to crisis – the centrality of trust. In: Kramer RM, Tyler TR (eds) Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, pp 261–287Google Scholar
  27. Mitullah W (1999) Lake Victoria’s Nile perch industry: institutions, politics and joint action. IDS working paper 87, IDS, University of Sussex, Brighton, U.K.Google Scholar
  28. MOFI (2008) Report of fishery production in VietnamGoogle Scholar
  29. Morgan RM, Hunt SD (1994) The commitment – trust theory of relationship marketing. J Marketing 58:20–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nooteboom B (1993) Transactions and networks: do they connect?In: Groenewegen J (ed) Dynamics of the firm: strategies of pricing and organisation. Edward Elgar, Aldershot, pp 9–26Google Scholar
  31. Nooteboom B (1999) Inter-firm alliances: analysis and design. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ruben R, Tilburg AV, Trinekens J, Boekel MV (2007) Linking market integration, supply chain governance, quality and value added. In Tropical Food Chains: Governance Regimes for Quality Management. Wageningen, the Netherlands: Wageningen Academic PublishersGoogle Scholar
  33. Sako M (1992) Prices, quality and trust, inter-firm relations in Britain and Japan. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sako M, Helper S (1998) Determinants of trust in supplier relations: evidence from the automotive industry in Japan and the United States. J Econ Behav Organ 34:387–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schulze B, Wocken C, Spiller A (2006) Relationship quality in agri-food chains: supplier management in the German pork and dairy sector. J Chain Netw Sci 6:55–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shapiro D, Sheppard BH, Cheraskin L (1992) Business on a handshake. Negotation J 8:365–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stake R (1995) The art of case study research. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Sven A, Gronhaug K (1995) Authority and trust in network relationships. In: Hakansson H, Snehota I (eds) Developing relationships in business networks. Routledge, London, pp 368–381Google Scholar
  39. Tsegai M (2006) The importance of business relations in the fish supply chain and export market distribution channels: the case of the Eritrean fish industry. PhD thesis, University of Groningen, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  40. Uzzi B (1997) Social structure and competition in inter-firm networks: the paradox of embeddedness. Adm Sci Q 42:35–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. VASEP (2008), Market report, VietnamGoogle Scholar
  42. Williamson OE (1985) The economic institutions of capitalism: firms, markets, and relational contracting. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Williamson OE (1992) Markets, hierarchies, and the modern corporation. J Econ Behav Organ 17:335–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Williamson OE (1993) Calculativeness, trust and economic organization. J Law Econ 36:453–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Williamson OE (2000) The new institutional economics: taking stock, looking ahead. J Econ Lit 38:595–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yin RK (1994) Case study research: design and methods. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  47. Zajac E, Olsen CP (1993) From transaction cost to transactional value analysis: implications for the study of inter-organisational strategies. J Manage Stud 30:131–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ziggers GW, Trienekens J (1999) Quality assurance in food and agribusiness supply chains: developing successful partnerships. Int J Prod Econ 4:271–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zucker LG (1986) Production of trust: institutional sources of economic structure, 1840–1920. Res Organ Behav 8:53–111Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and Business AdministrationCan Tho UniversityCan Tho CityVietnam
  2. 2.Mekong Delta InstitutionCan Tho UniversityCan Tho CityVietnam

Personalised recommendations