It has been said repeatedly that relationships between partners are rarely on a stable pathway all the time. Relationships can be perfect on some occasions but experience difficulties on other days. Essentially, maintaining perfect relationships all the time is almost impossible. This scenario also plays out in buyer and supplier partnerships. The involvement of buyers and suppliers in partnerships aimed at better performance can sometimes encounter conflicts from diverse actions. For example, a supplier might find issues with the provision of short notice by the buyer, or the buyer may complain about the supply of low-quality components. As shown, the pathway of buyer and supplier relationships may be bumpy. However, buyers and suppliers need each other despite facing conflicts. An investigation of buyer and supplier conflict resolution techniques finds that possible methods of resolving conflicts entail collaboration, accommodation, confrontation, compromising, and competing.

Conflict resolution techniques between buyers and suppliers

  • Collaboration
  • Accommodation
  • Confrontation
  • Compromising
  • Competing
  • Collaboration

As one of the conflict resolution techniques, collaborating concerns the decision by parties in disagreement to work together by considering solutions that address the needs of either party. According to Bradford et al. (2004), collaboration is a technique where partners embroiled in a conflict seek unifying solutions. While using this technique of resolving conflicts, differing parties look for original or inventive ways to resolve their conflicts. The suggested ways must center on the needs of both parties. Collaboration ensures that the solutions are gainful to both parties. This resultantly ensures the satisfaction of both parties, which helps to perpetuate the relationship between disputed partners. The use of collaboration is laudable because of its grander ability than other techniques of resolving conflicts since it results in progressive outcomes. In light of the above, the collaborative technique is an approach grounded on developing solutions that are mindful of the needs of either side, i.e., the supplier and the buyer. This has the potential of producing unified solutions that can satisfy both parties. Therefore, collaboration is a viable technique for resolving bumpy buyer and supplier relationships.

  • Accommodation

The accommodation technique entails one party agreeing to support the perspectives of another party in a conflicted situation. This implies that when a conflict arises, one of the parties is willing to sacrifice their position and abide by the other party’s perspective. This is an indication by the accommodating party that they can listen or accommodate the other party’s views. Either party may accommodate the other to solve the impasse between them. An accommodative approach to resolving conflicts indicates the readiness of parties to accommodate the viewpoints of others (Bradford et al., 2004). Conflicts or differences in perspectives between buyers and suppliers have the potential to create a stalemate. However, in some situations, it is untenable to adopt both parties’ perspectives. This leaves the option of having one party accommodating the perspectives of the other in order to resolve the impasse. Hence, foregoing one’s perspectives to be bound by the perspectives of the other is what accommodation entails. An accommodative technique is most applicable where it is untenable to adopt the opinions of both parties.

  • Confrontation

The confrontation technique entails constructively arguing the perspectives of disputing perspectives to stress the perspective of one of the parties. Confrontation is about the objective discussion of separate ideas to enable deliberations on divergent opinions and finding ways to solve disputes without triggering emotions. This approach entails the objective critiquing of the opinions of either party in order to find a potent solution. According to research, the use of the confrontational approach entailing purely objective discussion of ideas can produce effective solutions (Bradford et al., 2004). This is especially the case when parties present their opposing ideas in a calm and welcoming way. The approach entails challenging the ideas of different parties. This aims to constructively challenge the strong points of either party’s stance to emphasize one perspective.

  • Compromising

This method entails making joint concessions by disputing parties over a tense issue. Under compromising, the parties agree to some losses whenever a dispute arises to further cooperation. This means that both parties concede some part of their desires while neither party has their way around a contentious issue. Parties are not particularly happy with the result; however, there is fairness in the arrival of the decision. The above implies that parties agree to lose some part of their desires whenever buyers and suppliers are involved in a conflict. In the end, this allows them to find a solution that, although undesirable, allows them to further cooperation.

  • Competing

The competing strategy is where the disputing parties go into discussions with a mentality of winning. With this conflict resolution mechanism, one party believes that it must win the conflict. Hence, this strategy produces a winner and a loser at the end of the day. Either party comes for negotiations with the mentality of winning. Hence, there is no chance to consider either party’s view but for the confident party to assert their position and emerge the winner. The winner’s position is final suppose they assert their perspective more strongly than the other party.


In sum, an investigation of the techniques of resolving disputes between buyers and suppliers has precisely elaborated the various methods of resolving conflicts between buyers and suppliers. The various methods of resolving conflicts between supply chain partners entail collaborating, compromising, accommodating, confronting, and competing.   


Bradford, K., Stringfellow, A., & Weitz, B. (2004). Managing conflict to improve the effectiveness of retail networks. Journal of Retailing, 80(3), 181–195.

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