Paper published in the International Journal of Production Research



This paper develops a taxonomy of buyer–supplier relationships (BSRs), based on the supplier’s absorptive capacity (AC). AC encompasses three learning processes: exploration, assimilation, and exploitation. The aim is to develop a taxonomy that can predict a firm’s performance with regard to innovation and operational efficiency. This research complements the literature, which presently focuses on descriptive rather than predictive taxonomies. Data from 153 firms were collected through survey research. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess the quality of data and calculate composite scores to be used in the cluster analysis to develop the BSRs patterns. Analysis of variance was used to explore the relationships between BSR type and firm performance. Finally, semi-structured interviews aided interpretation of the proposed taxonomy. Findings support the identification of groups of dyads through different combinations of the learning processes underlying AC. The different combinations are typified through AC strength and AC reinforcement. The results provide evidence of a significant relationship between AC strength and firm performance. Surprisingly, we did not find empirical support for the relationship between AC reinforcement and performance.

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