Taking the leap from dyads to triads: Buyer-supplier relationships in supply networks

Thomas Choi, Zhaohui Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


A network is made up of nodes and links. The smallest unit that consists of both these network elements is a dyad made up of two nodes (a buyer and a supplier) and the link that connects them (a buyer-supplier relationship). Naturally, the focus of the supply chain management literature has been on this dyad. For instance, a buyer affects a supplier through its supplier evaluation and certificate programs, as well as long-term agreement practices. The relationship between a buyer and its supplier has been characterized as cooperative or adversarial. We have learned a great deal about supply chains through such studies in dyadic context. However, we submit that in a network, a dyad is not the smallest unit of a network. In fact, the smallest unit is a triad, made up of three nodes and the links that connect them. If so, how would this recognition guide us as we move forward to investigate supply chains as a network? What would be its implications to the genre of the literature on buyer-supplier relationships?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-266
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Purchasing and Supply Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Buyer-supplier relationships
  • Dyads
  • Supply networks
  • Triads

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


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