Selecting resilient suppliers: Supplier complexity and buyer disruption

Florian Wissuwa, Christian F. Durach, Thomas Y. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The selection of suppliers has a long-term impact on the performance of the buying firm. This is true in stable situations as well as in times of uncertainty, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the literature on supplier selection criteria that would help identify suppliers that support the success of the buying firm, we identify a previously unnoticed criterion: a supplier's complexity. In this study, we examine the relationship between supplier complexity and buyer disruptions. Normal accident theory suggests that complex firms are more prone to disruption, while social systems theory views firm-level complexity as essential in avoiding disruption. Given these two opposing theoretical viewpoints, this study examines whether and how supplier complexity affects numbers of disruptions experienced by the buyers. Our data collection entails 59 buyer-supplier dyads, extended to a triadic context (i.e., buyer-supplier-supplier), through a survey taken from 118 German manufacturing firms. The results show that both the internal complexity of a supplier and the complexity of the collaboration with other suppliers increases the number of disruptions experienced by the buyer. A high degree of supplier dependence can dampen this effect. These results introduce a supplier's complexity as a relevant criterion for supplier selection and shed light on the moderating influence of supplier dependency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108601
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Firm complexity
  • Risk management
  • Supplier selection
  • Supply chain disruptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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