Unintended Consequences: How Suppliers Compensate for Price Concessions and the Role of Organizational Justice in Buyer-Supplier Relations

Steven Carnovale, John W. Henke, Scott DuHadway, Sengun Yeniyurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


“You get what you pay for” is one of life's lessons that predominates in purchasing decisions individuals make in their personal lives. The results of this study suggest this lesson should also prevail among management when price-related purchasing decisions in businesses are being made. An evaluation of over 1,700 purchasing instances across seven years of a longitudinal panel data set collected from Tier 1 production suppliers to the six major North American automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, found that suppliers compensate for price concessions and price reduction pressure from the OEM in the year following the concession, by reducing product quality, service support, and R&D expenditures associated with goods provided to the OEM. This industry is particularly relevant because it is highly adversarial, yet at the same time reliant on interdependence. The results show that supplier price concessions granted to an OEM led to compensatory supplier behaviors of reduced quality and R&D expenditures toward that OEM. Further, the results suggest that the organizational justice dimensions of distributive justice, procedural justice, interpersonal justice, and informational justice can ameliorate negative supplier compensatory activities. A buyer–supplier relational environment that engenders organizational justice tactics such as open and honest communication with suppliers provides suppliers the expectation of an acceptable return on business over the long term, provides help to suppliers to reduce costs, and builds supplier trust of the OEM had generally positive effects on quality, service, and R&D expenditures. From a management perspective, these results indicate there is a very real risk versus reward issue associated with pressuring suppliers for price reductions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Business Logistics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • buyer supplier relations
  • equity theory
  • organizational justice
  • price concessions
  • price pressure


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