Purpose-The paper aims to describe the changes in buyer-supplier relationships among Japanese companies at the early 2000s, focusing on two critical features; long-term relationships and information sharing. In particular, the paper investigates the relationship between benefits from information-sharing activities within buyer-supplier relationships and the stability of these relationships. Design/methodology/approach-The paper develops a questionnaire based on prior research related to Japanese companies and undertakes a questionnaire survey of 353 Japanese manufacturing companies (which belong to the machinery, electrical/electronics, transportation equipment, and precision industries) in 2002. Findings-Although Japanese companies have been considered to have close relationships with their partners, the paper finds only a small proportion of buyers were willing to share sensitive information with their suppliers and/or expected to continue long-term relationships with them. In addition, an examination of factors relating to buyers' performance shows that receiving benefits from inter-organizational information-sharing activities (attending suppliers' meetings, sending engineers to suppliers, and proposing cost saving ideas) could affect buyers' incentives to sustain long-term relationships with their suppliers. Originality/value-The paper provides empirical evidence of the changing nature of the buyer-supplier relationship in Japanese manufacturing companies. Specifically, the main contribution of this research is to provide empirical evidence indicating that the benefit from buyer-supplier relationships has an effect on the governance structure of these relationships.
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