ORIENTATION : Personal relationships within the context of supply chain management is one of
the least understood and researched areas in this field.
RESEARCH PURPOSE : The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the complexities
relating to the interaction between buyers and suppliers of logistics services when personal
relationships are involved.
RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD : A descriptive qualitative research strategy was used.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 suppliers and 8 buyers of logistic services
within the South African third-party logistics industry.
MAIN FINDINGS : The main findings indicate several benefits related to building personal
relationships with a buyer or supplier of logistics services. These benefits include enhanced
personal and business understanding, enhanced communication, enhanced trust, increased
business volume, ease of doing business, enhanced problem-solving abilities, ease of conflict
resolution and risk mitigation. Subsequently, aspects affecting the nature of the personal
relationship were also identified. These include gender, relationship asymmetry, and the
ability to adapt to different personalities.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : A long-term commitment towards a buyer or supplier was identified
as essential in order to reap the associated benefits of forming personal relationships.
CONTRIBUTION : The main theoretical contribution of this study can be argued as empirically
testing an existing personal relationship framework, confirming the transferability of the
framework. Testing the framework in a different context yielded four additional benefits of
personal relationships, four supplementary factors influencing the interaction between buyers
and suppliers and an additional aspect influencing the nature of personal relationships, thus
expanding the body of knowledge of this topic.
This article is based on the MPhil dissertation of K.M.; thus,
he was the main researcher. W.N. assisted as supervisor
with the conceptualisation, literature review and research
instrument. T.K. provided methodological guidance and