Buyer-supplier alliances in the automobile industry: How exit-voice strategies influence interpersonal relationships

Ronald H. Humphrey, Blake Ashforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although automobile manufacturers emphasize that they are building more cooperative, long-term relationships with their suppliers, we hypothesized and found that buyers are actually pursuing a dual strategy approach, in which they use threats on out-group suppliers while providing help to in-group members. Our hypotheses were based on the exit, voice, and loyalty typology, and on research from leader-member exchange theory. We also found that the macro-level strategy set the context for the micro-level interactions between buyers and suppliers. The degree to which the buyers and suppliers interacted in a friendly, informal manner depended more on the in-or out-group status of the supplier firm than on the interaction style preferences of the suppliers. These findings are consistent with Mischel's (1977) theory that individual differences predict behavior under weak environmental conditions but not under strong environments. Compared to buyers, suppliers were more likely to prefer a friendly, informal interaction style. These findings were predicted based on the research on emotional display rules and emotional labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-730
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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