Relationship follows technology! How Industry 4.0 reshapes future buyer-supplier relationships

Veile J, Schmidt MC, Müller J, Voigt KI (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2021


Book Volume: 32

Pages Range: 1245-1266

Journal Issue: 6


DOI: 10.1108/JMTM-09-2019-0318


Purpose: This study analyzes how technological changes in the context of Industry 4.0 influence buyer-supplier relationships (BSRs). Design/methodology/approach: The study is explorative in nature; hence, an empirical qualitative research design is applied. It bases on 45 expert interviews with managers from German and Austrian industrial companies as empirical data. A qualitative content analysis is conducted to inductively analyze the empirical material and to identify common patterns, themes and categories. Findings: The paper finds that future transactions are mainly based on digitized, automated procedures, transferring various value creation processes to platforms. BSRs become more intense in nature. Companies consolidate their supplier base by focusing on important strategic suppliers. Research limitations/implications: As the paper is of exploratory nature, it can only present first qualitative insights. Further studies can extend the results by analyzing and contrasting BSRs in various industries or value chain stages and map differences and similarities, respectively. Practical implications: The paper's results provide implications for management and corporate practice alike. These help companies to raise Industry 4.0's full potential as for BSRs creating and securing long-term and sustainable competitive advantages. Originality/value: This paper is among the first to empirically investigate BSRs in the context of Industry 4.0. Providing implications for research and corporate practice, it contributes to tapping Industry 4.0's full potential complementing an extra-organizational perspective.

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How to cite


Veile, J., Schmidt, M.-C., Müller, J., & Voigt, K.-I. (2021). Relationship follows technology! How Industry 4.0 reshapes future buyer-supplier relationships. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 32(6), 1245-1266.


Veile, Johannes, et al. "Relationship follows technology! How Industry 4.0 reshapes future buyer-supplier relationships." Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management 32.6 (2021): 1245-1266.

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