Published 2010

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Publication details

Journal : Supply Chain Forum: an International Journal , vol. 11 , p. 18–29–12 , 2010

International Standard Numbers :
Printed : 1625-8312
Electronic : 1624-6039

Publication type : Academic article

Contributors : Toften, Kjell; Hammervoll, Trond

Issue : 2

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Kjetil Aune
Chief Librarian


This paper explores the commitment of importers of niche products towards their suppliers. In-depth interviews with key informants in nine import firms in the niche food and wine industries are used as the case methodology. The findings indicate that these firms display high affective commitment to their long-term suppliers. The relationships are few, close, and long term, and the reported benefits include extensive information sharing, smooth operations, innovation, loyalty, consulting prior to major business decisions, and prioritised deliveries. Potential challenges resulting from this commitment are personal friendships that could hamper sound business decisions, difficulties with terminating such relationships (because they are long-lasting personal relationships), and vulnerability to opportunistic behaviour due to specific investments or adaptations. Weaknesses related to cross-sectional data and limited possibilities for generalisation are acknowledged. Future research could aim at developing theoretical models that link commitment and marketing strategy. Also, further studies within other industries or regions will enhance knowledge regarding how to commit to suppliers. Research on niche marketing and importers, despite the importance of the wholesaling sector, is scarce. Understanding how commitment affects business operations could be the key to explaining why such buyer-seller relationships can be successful.