Purpose – This purpose of this study is to apply social exchange theory (SET) to explain how social exchange behaviors, such as the exchange of knowledge, information and respect between firms, would increase the likelihood of certification implementation and strengthen the relationships among partners. The main purposes of this study are to examine the significant connections between partner interactions and long-term orientation and to examine the links among long-term orientation, certifications and relationship quality. Design/methodology/approach – To test the research hypotheses, structural equation modeling was conducted to analyze the data collected from 136 respondents who are top managers of manufacturing enterprises in Taiwan National Science Park. Findings – Many enterprises in Taiwan regard conflict as a method to express more detailed information about collaboration in business and see conflict as a minus in making the quality of partnership healthier than before. It was affirmed that owning international certifications has an impact on long-term collaborative partnership. Conflicts within a partnership do not completely have a negative influence on relationship quality. Because enterprises want to keep stable partnerships and get long-term competitive advantages, they should continue creating smooth and efficient trading behaviors and should also consider relationship quality as an important factor with regard to their investment in some relationship-specific assets. Research limitations/implications – This study was intended to explore the connection between conflict and relationship quality; however, this relation suggested that conflict may be a negative influence but without any significant proof of the connection. Therefore, future researchers could examine this relation again in the context of Taiwanese enterprises. Practical implications – This study had some implications for enterprises in Taiwan, especially in regard to maintaining a long-term partnership and deciding whether to acquire a specific certification. When firms decide to invest in a relationship-specific asset, they should consider the interaction with the partners and the quality of the partnership. It is suggested that firms should evaluate not only the immediate benefits and drawbacks but also the implications with regard to partner relationships. Meeting the requirements of partners is thus an effective approach to gain trust and commitment. Social implications – As the interactions with partners are executed progressively more smoothly, the relationship quality will become increasingly better. The possibility of having a long-term collaborative relationship becomes higher as the relationship quality improves. Therefore, as the relationship duration becomes increasingly longer, the cost of having an international certification will offer a return on the investment or even result in a profit. Originality/value – A good relationship quality will lead to specific investments from partners, such as the one involving the implementation of specific certifications. The enterprises in Taiwan would prefer to develop a long-term partnership when their demands for a specific investment could be fulfilled. Consequently, enterprises can use the degree of relationship quality to assess the cost and benefits of implementing a certification and can, furthermore help in making the decision.
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