Underlining micro socio-psychological mechanisms of buyer-supplier relationships: Implications for inter-organizational learning agility

Abraham Carmeli, Itzik Zivan, Emanuel Gomes, Gideon D. Markman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The nature and patterns of vertical work relationships between buyers and suppliers is a key subject of inquiry in organization and management research. However, the mechanisms conducive to transforming transaction-based relationships into commitment-based relationships remain elusive. Although commitment-based relationships can produce various outcomes, little is known about whether and how these work relationships build and facilitate inter-organizational capabilities and their performance implications. This article presents a theoretical model that clarifies the micro socio-psychological mechanisms by which buyers and suppliers can develop inter-organizational learning agility. By drawing on theoretical insights in the areas of social exchange, micro-foundations, positive work relationships, commitment, and dynamic capabilities, it suggests that three mechanisms – respectful engagement, rich and ongoing communication, and advice seeking and giving – can transition buyer-supplier relations from transactional ties to commitment-based ties. It is argued that relationship commitment is a key to building inter-organizational learning agility by enacting three mechanisms: psychological availability, generativity and reflective reframing. The discussion centers on the fundamentals for developing this stream of research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100577
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank the associate editor and anonymous reviewers of this journal for their helpful feedbacks on an earlier draft of this paper. We also appreciate editorial comments of Esther Singer.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Buyer-supplier work relationships
  • Inter-organizational learning agility
  • Micro-foundations
  • Relationship commitment
  • Vertical relationships


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