BACKGROUND : Individuals share information and form relationships to improve collaboration
and joint organisational performance. However, managing these interpersonal relationships
within a supply chain management perspective is one of the lesser understood and researched
areas within this discipline.
OBJECTIVES : The research was aimed to investigate the negative effects of interpersonal
relationships between those individuals who represent organisations that buy and supply
METHOD : The research was carried out by the use of a descriptive qualitative research design.
Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 suppliers and 8 buyers of logistic
services within the South African third party logistics industry.
FINDINGS : Firstly, the results indicate that the primary reason for interpersonal relationships is
firstly for improved professional interest and secondly for genuine friendships. Without continuing
commitment or intention to maintain the interpersonal relationship between these individuals, it is
not possible to sustain the associated benefits of forming interpersonal relationships. Secondly, the
findings indicate that enhanced trust, within interpersonal relationships, is similar to business-tobusiness
partnerships which evolve through stages of exploration, formalisation and maturity.
Organisations should rather focus to improve competence-based trust than individual interpersonal
trust. Thirdly, relationship asymmetry, gender differences and the aptitude to adjust to disparate
personalities may steer the interpersonal relationship towards the dark side. Lastly, the benefits of
interpersonal relationships have been proven; however, these interpersonal relationships may be
difficult to manage over time and can also be the foundation of suboptimal decisions if the
relationship takes precedence over business interest.
CONCLUSION : Managers should not underestimate the potential hegemony between individuals who have interpersonal relationships. Relationships require upkeep, personal involvement,
attention and trust. Interpersonal relationship intentions without formal safety measures, such
as organisational governance and policies, can expose and even diminish the strongest
organisational alliances to suboptimal performance and reduced profitability.