Buyer–Supplier Relationship Dynamics in Buyers’ Bankruptcy Survival

Published: 23 August 2023

Authors: Sudha Mani, Vivek Astvansh and Kersi D. Antia

Publication:  Journal of Marketing, Forthcoming, EXPRESS: First published online July 27, 2023


A bankrupt buyer firm's interactions with its suppliers during bankruptcy have critical implications for both parties and for the broader economy, yet these interactions remain poorly understood. The authors build on research on buyer–supplier relationship dynamics to demonstrate that accommodative and exploitative velocities—the rate and direction of change in the corresponding acts—serve as signals affecting bankruptcy survival. They show how signal characteristics (i.e., the variability in accommodative and exploitative acts) and signaler characteristics (i.e., whether the party undertaking the acts is the buyer or its suppliers) moderate the impact of accommodative and exploitative velocities on bankruptcy survival. Study 1 examines the bankruptcy survival outcome of 310 U.S. bankruptcies over 14 years and finds that a 1% increase in accommodative (exploitative) velocity increases (decreases) the buyer's survival by 39% (33%). Further, variability in accommodative acts weakens their effect, and suppliers' (vs. the buyer's) accommodative and exploitative velocities are less deterministic of the buyer's bankruptcy survival. Study 2 uses a scenario-based experiment to shed light on the mechanism underlying the impact of the two velocities on bankruptcy survival. The findings from both studies demonstrate the key role played by buyer–supplier interactions in a buyer's bankruptcy survival.

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