I Wasn’t Expecting That! The Relational Impact of Negotiation Strategy Expectation Violations

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Journal of Supply Chain Management






While negotiation within ongoing buyer–supplier relationships is a key element in supply chain management, the emphasis in the literature has been on one-time, isolated event negotiations. This research, through three scenario-based experiments with supply chain managers, considers how buyers’ perceptions of past negotiation strategies help to develop future negotiation strategy expectations of their suppliers. If the buyers’ strategy expectations are not met (violated) by the suppliers, these buyers will seek to understand why. Using the combination of expectancy violation theory and attribution theory, this research examines the relational impact of a negotiation strategy expectation violation and the role of extra-relational factors. The results suggest that relationship history does influence how buyers respond to negotiation strategy expectation violations and that the relational impact of a negative violation is tempered by the history as opposed to a single event reaction. While the findings support that extra-relational factors can also have a relational impact, buyers perceive differences based on the type of extra-relational factor (organizational or external) and the type of relational outcome (commitment and relationship value). The results of the interaction of the strategy expectation violation and extra-relational factor may stretch the boundary conditions of attribution theory. The findings suggest that suppliers should consider how their buying partners may perceive their negotiation behavior and determine the potential relational ramifications of behavior outside of the buyers’ expectations based on previous exchanges.