Strategic Supplier Management in Nascent Firms: An Examination of How Nascent Firms Improve Customer Attractiveness to Obtain Strategic Supplier Collaboration

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to empirically investigate the activities that nascent firms undertake to improve customer attractiveness and gain collaborative commitment from strategic suppliers. Design/methodology/approach: Data from a grounded theory study consisting of 26 participants from 15 firms and a review of extant literature were used to develop a theoretical model that explains how a nascent firm increases its customer attractiveness to elicit commitment and collaboration from strategic suppliers. Findings: The authors find that social capital, born of close social ties and social history, enhances the effectiveness of a nascent firm's relationship-building practices. This counteracts a supplier's collaborative risk and consequently increases the nascent firm's customer attractiveness, thus enabling it to obtain strategic supplier collaborative commitment. Practical implications: This research helps managers by providing direction on what practices nascent firms pursue to gain strategic supplier resources and collaboration. Given the reality of resource constraints in nascent firms, it is suggested that this insight is essential to obtaining crucial external resources needed to survive and grow. Originality/value: Extant research on buyer–supplier collaboration is mostly confined to the context of mature firms and does not account for the unique inter-organizational relational challenges faced by nascent firms. This research uncovers the idiosyncrasies of supplier management in nascent firms, and elucidates on the actions that nascent firm managers take to gain supplier collaborative commitment.