Customer categorization, relational justice and SME performance in supermarket supply chains

Ricardo Malagueño, Ismail Golgeci, Andrew Fearne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of perceived relational justice on the relationship between key customer categorization and performance of small food and drink producers in supermarket supply chains. Design/methodology/approach: Survey data are derived from a sample of (small-scale) suppliers of local and regional food to a large British supermarket. Partial least squares regression analysis was used to test a conceptual framework, which positions relational justice as a mediator in the relationship between key customer categorization and supplier performance, moderated by the length of the relationship. Findings: The findings reveal that small suppliers who perceive their treatment by their key customers as fair tend to achieve higher business performance, which supports the hypothesized mediating role of relational justice on supplier performance. However, this research found no evidence to support the hypothesis that this role is moderated by the length of the relationship between the supplier and buyer. Originality/value: This paper makes a novel empirical contribution, focusing on performance outcomes for small-scale suppliers in a highly competitive environment (fast-moving consumer goods) with customers (supermarkets) who have significant market power. Accordingly, the paper shows that the way supermarket buyers treat their suppliers matters more for the performance of their suppliers than the very fact that they are key customers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-429
Number of pages13
JournalSupply Chain Management: An International Journal
Issue number3
Early online date12 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2019


  • Supply-chain management
  • Customer relationship management
  • Supermarkets
  • UK
  • Company Performance
  • Food Industry

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