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Abstract

The importance of procurement relationships in food supply chains is increasing in importance due to issues of food safety, food security, changing consumer preferences, ethical concerns and greater awareness of the environmental impact of food production. Despite the considerable research on buyer-seller relationships in the marketing and management literature, only a small proportion of this has focused on procurement relationships between producers and buyers in food supply chains. Hence, this paper specifically focuses on examining the impact of relationship quality on supplier performance in the context of food supply chains. The theoretical framework is derived from the tenets of the resource-based view and the relational view of firms. Using this framework, the definition, measurement and structural dimensions of relationship quality is established in the context of food producers and buyers. This construct is then tested in relationship to supplier performance. Utilizing data from a mail survey of 954 red meat producers in New Zealand, the model of supplier-buyer relationship quality and its effects on supplier performance is tested using structural equation modelling. The results demonstrate that relationship quality is an essential factor in procurement relationships with suppliers in food supply chains and shows that, as hypothesized, higher quality relationships lead to positive performance outcomes. The results support the theoretical framework indicating that relationship quality, conceptualized and defined in this context, is indeed a valuable relational resource due to its impact on supplier performance. Managerially, this resource can be manipulated to improve supplier performance, and hence potentially provide firms with competitive advantage that has high replication barriers.

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