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Difference Between Adversarial and Partnership Relationship in Business

Adversarial vs Partnership Relationship in Business

Business relationships are relationships between different business entities, between suppliers and retailers of their products, between two or more companies selling the same products, and between business enterprises and their customers.

It is very important that a company maintain good business relationships with all the people that it deals with. To do this, the company must build their trust and confidence to ensure continued patronage and a steady business.

One must follow a partnership rather than an adversarial relationship in business. An adversarial relationship is one wherein businesses treat each other and their clients as adversaries, treating them as enemies instead of as partners. There is little or no trust between them, and their means of communicating with each other is very formal. They do not have direct contact and no direct involvement in each other’s activities. Instead of finding ways that are beneficial to both parties, they tend to blame each other when problems arise.

A partnership relationship in business, on the other hand, makes both parties work closely together to ensure that everything that they do will benefit both companies. The line of communication between both parties is open, and they cooperate with each other. It is a relationship based on trust and the belief that every action that each company takes is for the benefit of both. When problems arise, they solve them by acknowledging their mistakes and by finding solutions together.

As compared with an adversarial relationship, a partnership relationship involves long-term business agreements instead of having individual transactions and short-term contracts. While information is withheld from each other in an adversarial relationship; in a partnership relationship, it is shared to make problem solving easier.

However, when the business is based in a place where there is conflict and a business environment that is not transparent and prone to corruption, most companies opt for an adversarial approach to lessen the risks to their business. Businesses often grab every opportunity they have to achieve instant benefits in a short period of time rather than opt for a long-term relationship which can cause losses for them. The most conventional business relationship in the right environment, though, is a partnership relationship.


1.An adversarial relationship in business is one wherein a company treats clients, customers, and other companies they deal with as enemies while a partnership relationship in business is one wherein clients, customers, and other companies are considered as partners.
2.In a partnership relationship, companies trust each other while there is little or no trust in an adversarial relationship.
3.Whereas information is shared in a partnership relationship, it is withheld in an adversarial relationship.
4.Adversarial relationships usually have short-term contracts and individual transactions while a partnership relationship is long-term.
5.There is an open line of communication in a partnership relationship, and both parties work closely together to achieve a common goal while there is no direct involvement between companies in an adversarial relationship.
6.In the right business environment, a partnership relationship is the appropriate approach, but in a risky and hostile environment, it is best to apply an adversarial approach.

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  1. give me more points about adversarial relationship and partnerships

    • thanks for your article,it really helps a lot. hope i can have your reply. hope i can have more ideas from you.

      • When your client is immature in their business relationships, they treat you as an adversary. Anything you do that might be good for you is automatically perceived as a loss for them. Anything that they need to produce better results must come at your expense alone. They are completely inflexible.
        On the other end of the spectrum, your clients and dream clients that are more mature treat you as a partner. They seek to find ways for you to gain efficiencies, and they are willing to work with you to make changes that benefit both of you in a positive way. They are flexible.
        All this is true about your company, too.
        Your company may speak poorly about your customers and refer to them in a manner that makes it sound as if your clients are your enemy, and that anything they want is unreasonable and done at your expense. Your company may believe anything that you do for your client is a loss for you, instead of seeking ways to make their needs mutually beneficial. It’s not easy to find ways to do so, but that is what separates the professionals from the pretenders.
        Immature relationships are vendor-customer relationships, in the middle of the continuum these relationships are vendor-of-choice – customer relationships, and at the mature end of the spectrum are true strategic partner–client relationships.
        For your part, you should be working towards the good end of the maturity continuum.

  2. How interesting that you mention the difference between partner and adversarial business relationships, that partners work together for the same goal. My husband and I are thinking of starting a small business this summer where we would want a geopolitical strategic advice speaker for the employees. We will find a reputable strategic advice speaker in our area.

  3. I understand your definition of the two terms, but wished there was at least one example of a company that treated their clients as enemies and did not suffer to their dimise.

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