Tech and trust: Substitutes or complements at the buyer-supplier interface?

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)


Supply chain performance crucially depends on information exchange, which has a long history of being supported by IT-enabled tools as well as trust between buyers and suppliers. IT-enabled tools formalized part of the interaction between buyers and suppliers, but boundary spanners such as key account holders, machine operators, and IT specialists continued to occupy a role as gatekeeper for IT-based information exchange. Recent digital-enabled tools, however, do not require human control, begging the question whether such tools will replace trust which was once considered crucial. We conducted a case study of supplier machine sensorization by Bosch at one of its metal stamped parts suppliers in Mexico, and found that a longitudinal relationship of complementarity and substitution exists between relational embedding and digital-enabled monitoring. We shed light on this finding by combining insights from the Technology Management literature and the theory of Embeddedness.

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