The role of supplier relationships in the development of new ventures
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionIndustrial Marketing Management. 2019, 80 (July) 149-159. 10.1016/j.indmarman.2017.12.008
New business ventures have rather limited resources, generally suffer from liabilities of smallness and newness and rely on external business relationships, typically with suppliers, for developing and acquiring necessary resources. Yet, to date, research on how new ventures develop initial relationships with suppliers and how these affect the nascent business has been limited. Taking the business network perspective and relating it to studies of supply chain and supplier involvement in product development, our study contributes to the rather limited body of knowledge on new ventures' supplier relationships. Empirically, we draw on a longitudinal, in-depth single-case study of the first two years of operation of a start-up. Our study shows that the development of the key initial supplier relationships starts from open-ended expectations of mutual future relational benefits and involves a stepwise ‘inter-definition’ of solutions in interaction between the parties. We observe that interdependences arise between the new venture and its key suppliers and these enable but also limit, the development paths of both partners. We argue that the key initial supplier relationships extend a new venture's resource and capability base and are an integral part of a new venture's business model.