It is well established that the existence of investments specific to a relationship influences the choice of governance structure, including the use of contractual safeguards. What is less well understood are the circumstances leading to the creation of those specific assets to begin with. This paper explores the industrial buyers motives to put itself at risk by making investments, tangible and intangible, which cannot be readily redeployed from one supplier to another. Using original date from a sample of 388 supply relationships involving all automakers in the US and Japan, the authors examine features of the supply task, the supplier, and the supply environment which serve as motives to make supplier-specific investments. They also examine potential safeguards, which facilitate the posting of specific assets by offering assurance against supplier opportunism. The findings indicate that specific investments serve as a mechanism to i) increase coordination when the manufacturing task is complex, ii) buffer the buyer against technological uncertainty, iii) build close relationships when the requisite production skills are scarce (the supply market is thin). The authors find more specific investments in supply arrangements, which are embedded in a broader business relationship. They find fewer specific investments in the Japanese context. Finally, they find indication that buyers focus their investments on lesser-known, low-share component makers, perhaps to capitalize on a unique, focused supplier capability.