The influence of relationship quality on the innovation capacity in traditional food chains

Bianka Kühne, Xavier Gellynck, Robert D. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: Relational aspects between actors in a chain have been found to influence innovation capacity. Yet, many studies focus rather on groups of chain members, without investigating personalized links between the chain members. Other research involved case-studies on a limited number of individual chains. The purpose of this paper is to examine quantitatively how the perceived relationship quality among three relational linked chain members affects the innovation capacity in traditional food chains beyond the dyad. Design/methodology/approach: Evidence is drawn from a survey of 90 triplets of firms (three interlinked chain members), with each triplet belonging to a single individual traditional food chain. Research was conducted in three European countries and six traditional food product categories. Heterogeneity across these chains is examined based on cluster analysis. Binary logistic regression is used to examine the influence of relationship quality on the innovation capacity in the chains. Findings: Three distinct clusters are identified and interpreted as reflecting three levels of innovation capacity: high, medium, and low. Relationship quality is defined through characteristics such as trust, social satisfaction, non-coercive power, and reputation. Results suggest that the characteristics of the chain relationship quality may be important factors for the improvement of the innovation capacity in chains. Research limitations/implications: As chain relationship quality fosters sharing of resources necessary for innovation as well as the distribution of incentives, these results further strengthen the emerging conclusion from the literature that innovation can be catalyzed by collaboration strategies and building strong relationships. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the ongoing discussion on widening the supply chain approach from dyads to triads, as it is argued that a dyad of firms is intensively influenced by the network they are imbedded in. In this case, the paper explores the influence of the relationship quality among the food manufacturer and its main supplier and customer (and vice versa) on the innovation capacity of the whole chain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-65
Number of pages14
JournalSupply Chain Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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