PURPOSE: Current research seeks to create an economic model that connects strategic management and network theory. However, most theoretical models do not provide empirical evidence of network relationships’ real structure and attributes. The purpose of the paper is to explore the relation between enterprise characteristics and the characteristics of buyer–supplier relationships in supply chain networks. We are specifically interested in business relationships in networks with respect to the various enterprises’ sizes and sectors of industry. The subject of our research was characteristics, such as network relationship complexity, continuity of relationships, and strategic management in networks. The paper summarizes the results of an empirical study on buyer-supplier networks and accentuates the importance of developing and fostering business collaboration for strategic management. METHODOLOGY: We conducted the questionnaire research in 2016–2019 on 360 enterprises from the Czech Republic. We selected the research sample based on the non-probability purposive sampling method. The members of the research team collected data from an online survey and personal visits to enterprises. The statistical analysis of hypotheses is based on the frequency of managers’ answers. To evaluate results, a two-proportion Z-Test is used for comparing different categories of enterprises according to their enterprise size or prevailing sector of the industry. FINDINGS: The main results show that the differences between enterprises involved in the buyer–supplier structures lie mainly in their size. The survey did not identify differences between industry sectors. The findings show that the complexity of networks in the Czech Republic is not high in terms of the number of suppliers or involvement in many supply networks. The continuity of relationships with partners in buyer–supplier networks is relatively long-term oriented. Long-term partnerships reflect the higher quality of relationships and support future integration. However, large enterprises prefer to build contracts for shorter or longer periods. An overall decentralization strategy characterizes the strategic management of buyer–supplier networks. This finding means dividing competencies such as planning, managing, sourcing, decision-making, transporting (delivering) among more enterprises. IMPLICATIONS FOR THEORY AND PRACTICE: The paper provides an insight into understanding how the buyer–supplier network functions. The theory’s implication builds on the connection of supply chain management and strategic management from the network perspective. Supply chain management is viewed as a part of strategic management, and the synthesis of both research areas opens an innovative view to business theory. ORIGINALITY AND VALUE: The paper’s principal value is the connection between contemporary ideas of strategic management and supply chain management. The synthesis of supply chain management and network approach enhances strategic management theory.
Keywords: network, buyer–supplier relationships, strategic management, complexity, continuity, supply chain management