Do buyer cooperative actions matter under relational stress? Evidence from Japanese and U.S. assemblers in the U.S. automotive industry Academic Article uri icon


  • Buyers can create relational stress even as they work cooperatively with suppliers. This study investigates the moderating effects of relational stress on the ability of buyer-initiated cooperative actions to influence a supplier's willingness to invest in technology that will be of benefit to the buyer. Data on 2012 buying situations were collected from Tier 1 suppliers to three U.S. domestic automotive assemblers (Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors) and three Japanese transplant automotive assemblers (Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) over three consecutive years (2003-2005). The results indicate that (1) buyer-initiated cooperative actions of communication, assistance, and supplier involvement increase a supplier's willingness to invest in technology, (2) the relationship-enhancing effect of buyer assistance increases under high relational stress, while the effectiveness of buyer communication decreases, and (3) that the effect of supplier involvement is not significantly influenced by relational stress levels. Furthermore, we found that supplier relations with Japanese transplant assemblers are characterized by higher levels of cooperative actions, lower levels of relational stress, and higher levels of supplier willingness to invest in technology when compared to those of U.S. domestic assemblers. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Operations Management

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, C., Henke, J. W., & Griffith, D. A.

citation count

  • 50

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Chun||Henke, John W||Griffith, David A

publication date

  • April 2009