Difference Between Adversarial and Partnership Relationship in Business (With Table)

Every business runs on the wheel of trustworthy relationships and there it becomes necessary to maintain cordial business relationships with all the people and groups it deals with such as suppliers and retailers, different business entities, business enterprises, and customers. The company must continue to make a proper rapport with its dealing partners based on trust and confidence.

Adversarial vs Partnership Relationship in Business

The main difference between  Adversarial and partnership relationships is that in an Adversarial relationship companies treat each other as their rivals and do competition whereas in Partnership Relationship companies work together and believe in benefiting each other.

Difference Between Adversarial and Partnership Relationship in Business

On one hand, an Adversarial relationship comprises competition with the business rivalries producing the same products and there is trust for namesake or no trust at all between the two parties/two companies, etc. The profit-making is one-sided profit or loss completely. They do not acknowledge each other’s loss by helping each other out.

On the other hand, a partnership relationship comprises working together and benefiting each other. Here, the two parties acknowledge the loss and point out their mistakes and work on it together. This kind of relationship is completely based on trust and faith. Moreover, they have open communication to share every strategy, plan, and data.

Comparison Table Between Adversarial and Partnership Relationship in Business

Parameters of ComparisonAdversarial Relationship in BusinessPartnership Relationship in Business
NetworkClose networking is not doneClose networking is done
PeriodApplicable for short terms onlyApplicable for the long term
CompetitionEntities involved are rivals to each otherEntities involved are cordial to each other, they share every profit or loss
TrustThere is little or no trust between the two partiesIt is completely based on trust and confidence between the two parties
CommunicationThere is no communication or closed-ended communicationThere is open communication between the two who share their data and tactics

What is an Adversarial Relationship in Business?

An Adversarial relationship is one where business partners treat each other and their clients as adversaries, more of an enemy rather than as truthful partners. They maintain a very formal relationship with little or no communication bridge at all. 

They do not have a direct network of contacts in each other’s businesses. Furthermore, they left no stone unturned to harm and blame each other whenever any condition occurs. They don’t act as benefitting partners to one another.

It also comprises short-term agreements and dealings that make it even tougher to evolve it in a stable and faithful relationship. This kind of business relationship is best suited for places that are prone to corruption and are not transparent to minimize the risk in any way possible.

They plan to attain maximum profit in shorter terms only. In this kind of relationship, the information and details are concealed from one another to avoid fraud and discrepancies. Lastly, in these relationships, there is only one-sided profit or loss.

What is a Partnership Relationship in Business?

A partnership relationship is one, in which both parties work together from the very beginning. Furthermore, this relationship faces profit and loss as a team and not as rivals to each other. When this unforeseen situation arises then both parties acknowledge the mistake and do their part by working out the solution.

There is a lot of cooperation due to proper and regular communication. The level of trust both the parties show makes it possible for them to go for long-term business deals. The information is shared openly between the members of both parties so that even if any problem arises they can work out the solution at its earliest.

These kinds of relationships are mostly opted at places where everything is transparent and according to rules and regulations imposed by the organization. There are not many conflicts and disagreements between the entities. Partnership relationships are divided into three types: General partnership, limited partnership, and limited liability partnership.

There is a formal agreement between the two entities before going into partnership businesses and the disputes are generally settled through the help of an attorney. The agreement includes the investment they will make, the contributions they will make, and other important things.

Main Differences Between Adversarial and Partnership Relationship in Business

  1. In Adversarial relationships, the parties treat each other as their rivals whereas, in partnership relationships, the parties feel free to coordinate and benefit from any project they are given.
  2. In Adversarial relationships, the entities do not trust each other whereas in partnership relationships they have full faith in each other because they know about the credibility of their partners.
  3. Adversarial relationships are based on individual transactions and short-term goals whereas the other ones are based on long-term plans and investments.
  4. There is a closed channel of communication in adversarial relationships whereas there is open communication in a partnership that makes it possible to achieve targets together.
  5.  Adversarial relationships are meant for unfamiliar and hostile arrangements whereas partnerships are apt for cooperative business houses.


Adversarial relationships and Partnership relationships are business-making relationships that must involve lawyers and other professionals. The companies generally go for partnership relationships to achieve their long-term goals and create a friendly environment to maintain the quality of workspace and cordial contact between co-workers.

On the other hand, adversarial relationships are preferable in competitive and fraud-prone situations where there is a higher risk involved in business dealings. They are carried out for more formal business agreements consisting of professionals such as lawyers and attorneys.

From the above-mentioned points, one can figure out that both these relationships are carried out in the market depending upon the situation and the client’s behavior. One must choose wisely to make the best out of it.  These matters are pretty sensitive as they involve risk and profit-making factors in monetary values.


  1. https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8PR9CKD/download 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0019850100001401