Who owns the supplier relationship . . . the company or the buyer?

Posted on December 5, 2012


A recent story concerning the ownership of Twitter followers for a company account raises an interesting question about supplier relationships.  Added emphasis on the word “relationships.”

The PI Window on Business post “Who really owns your Twitter followers?,” talked about the case between Noah Kravitz and PhoneDog in which Kravitz (the employee) was sued by his former employer over the ownership of the company’s Twitter account followers.  By the way, the case is not as cut and dried as one might think . . . especially since Kravitz ultimately maintained control of the Twitter followers.

A question of ownership or relationship?

A question of ownership or relationship?

So here is the question from a purchasing perspective; what if a buyer leaves one company and takes a position with a competitor.  Included as part of the value add that this buyer brings to the new position, are the supplier relationships that have been established during his or her time with the former employer.

If relationships are indeed critical and a strong supply chain offers an organization a competitive advantage, it would not be unreasonable to presume that the rapport that is built up between a buyer and key suppliers is indeed a valuable asset.

So who owns this asset?

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comment section.