قابلیت مبادله از طریق تعامل کسب و کار: بررسی تجربی از سرویس گیرندهفناوری اطلاعات ارتباط تامین کننده
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21196||2009||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||11364 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Volume 15, Issue 4, December 2009, Pages 227–239
This article focuses on the opportunities for capabilities exchange within a specific business-to-business context: the relationship between a client and an information technology (IT) supplier. Research on the features of this type of relationship, although fairly extensive, has focused on IT implementation issues, relationship between IT resources, organisation performance and competitive advantage, IT outsourcing relationships and definition of IT capabilities. However, our understanding of the context where IT capabilities are exchanged within consultancy projects and how this exchange emerges is rather limited. The paper aims to bridge this gap by adopting the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) group's interaction approach as a tool for conducting an in-depth investigation of a case study to analyse the context, the parties and the interactions through which IT capabilities are exchanged. The research reveals that interpersonal relationships between users and consultants within consultancy projects are crucial to establish a long-lasting and stable relationship. As a result, during consultancy projects IT-related resources, in the form of IT physical infrastructures, human IT resources and IT intangible resources are exchanged and combined to create or enhance IT capabilities. Furthermore, we also claim that the success of such an exchange depends very much on the degree of social and interpersonal exchange.
It is no longer a novelty that IT is changing the way companies perform. The importance of understanding the results of IT implementation is revealed by the amount of research dedicated to the subject. Lai and Mahapatra (1997) identified 71 papers related to IT implementation issues. Others adopting a resource-based view (RBV) of the firm, focused on the relationship between IT resources, organisation performance and competitive advantage (Bharadwaj, 2000; Mata et al., 1995; Ross et al., 1996; Powell and Dent-Micallef, 1997; Tippins and Sohi, 2003) and on the definition of IT capabilities (Bharadwaj, 2000; Yongbeom et al., 2006; Duhan, 2007; Bharadwaj et al., 1999). IT outsourcing relationships are also being strongly discussed among researchers (Kern and Willcocks, 2002; Hurley, 2001; Gonzalez et al., 2006; Kishore et al., 2003; Goo et al., 2007; Lacity et al., 1996) where the reasons for success in IT adoption are shifted from the IT products implementation to the management of relationships with service providers (Kishore et al., 2003). The importance given to relationships in the context of IT implementation is also evident in research on client–consultant relationships (Mike, 2003; Shah, 1990; Chornoboy and Gardner, 1990; Larwood and Gattiker, 1986; Dawes et al., 2007). Despite these examples of IT research, existing literature relies more on what Bharadwaj (Bharadwaj et al., 1999) refers to as “anecdotal evidence, discussions with a few visionary IS executives or case studies of highly successful firms” (p. 379). This is particularly accurate when the subject on how to enhance IT capabilities is raised. The taxonomies of IT capabilities were identified (Bharadwaj, 2000; Duhan, 2007; Mulligan, 2002; Feeny and Willcocks, 1998), the importance of relationships with suppliers, consultants and service providers as keystones to successful implementations was also addressed (Kern and Willcocks, 2002; Goo et al., 2007; Mike, 2003; Webster, 1995; Lui and Chan, 2008; Zimmerman and Zelnio, 1986), but the links between IT capabilities development and relationships with IT suppliers were not fully explored. The researchers of the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) group argue that capabilities are developed through interactions in the relationships with other parties (Håkansson and Snehota, 1989) and “if properly used supplier relationships can dramatically enhance the resources and capabilities that a company can use” (Ford et al., 2003, p. 97). In the same line, the capabilities perspective based on RBV suggests that relationships work as mechanisms to coordinate resources and capabilities that a company does not possess (Foss, 1999; Loasby, 1994 and Loasby, 1998). In this sense, we have combined the contributions from the fields of industrial marketing and purchasing research and capabilities approach, specifically on IT capabilities, to argue that a company may boost their IT capabilities not only by purchasing and implementing IT resources but also through the process of interaction with the IT supplier during the implementation, which in turn will depend on the specific features of such a relationship. Therefore, this article seeks an understanding of the context, the parties and the interactions through which IT capabilities are exchanged within a client–IT supplier. To achieve this understanding, a single-case study was developed with two major goals: to define the key dimensions of the dyadic relationship between a company and an IT supplier and to explore the nature of IT capabilities as a type of exchange of the interaction process. The paper is organised as follows. First, a review of the relevant literature is presented based on three main theoretical keystones: the IMP interaction model, the literature on consultancy relationships research and the IT capabilities approach. The section which follows presents the research propositions and explains the analytical framework. Thirdly, we address the research methodology undertaken to develop a single-case study, followed by the case analysis and discussion of the findings. The last section reveals the conclusions and implications of the study and brings in the limitations and suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This article has examined some of the key features of the interaction process within a client–IT supplier relationship whereby IT capabilities may be exchanged and enhanced. The achieved findings and conclusions will be useful not only for the supply side, i.e., IT companies who wish to play an active role as IT capabilities promoters in their customers’ IT projects but also for the demand side, especially for IT users and managers responsible for decision-making in IT procurement. Firstly, this article builds on earlier IMP research that examines the four exchanges types (products and/or services, information, financial and social exchanges) within interaction and has sought to complement this approach with a fifth one of paramount importance: the exchange of IT capabilities in a bidirectional flow mainly achievable within social exchanges. Our study provides strong evidences that throughout client–IT supplier relationships, IT resources from both parties are exchanged and combined enhancing their IT capabilities. This exchange goes beyond the expected (or contracted) exchange of IT physical infrastructure or consultancy services. Rather it also flourishes through the closeness and informality of social relationships between users and consultants. This bilateral access can be explained through the idiosyncrasy of client–consultant relationship featured by daily contacts, informal communication processes and intense knowledge and experience sharing. Secondly, in line with the previous argument we conclude that social exchanges, outlined from informal and close relationships between consultants and end-users, are important keystones, if not the most important, to allow IT capabilities exchange to occur. Using the interaction model as a valuable approach to investigate the dimensions of a client–IT supplier relationship, we claim that social exchanges perform a crucial role in sustaining and strengthening the relationship. Given that during consultancy projects, IT implementation is featured by frequent, but typical conflicts, close relationships based on mutual trust between consultants and users encouraging cooperation and conflict resolution and tend to reduce uncertainty during IT projects. The PaintCo–ITSup case also exemplified how companies may expand or enhance their capabilities portfolio through social interaction with an IT supplier/consultant, whether they are involved or not in consultancy projects. It was highlighted that given the peculiarity of intermittent transactions, social exchange is imperative to fill in the discontinuity between IT projects. Therefore, we acknowledge that in high-technology products/services markets, and not only in the IT context, the frequency of buyer–supplier transactions is low since companies engage in this type of investments in a rather irregular basis. In this sense, during these discontinuity periods, social bonds between actors may be lost and the opportunity to enhance IT capabilities may fade away. It is vital to keep social contact and engage in activities (seminars, fairs and new product presentations) to reduce the formality of the relationship as demonstrated by our case study. Fourthly, the paper draws attention to the fact that managing a capabilities gap, between existent and necessary capabilities, is a problem faced by all companies whether they are searching for IT capabilities or other types of capabilities. In this sense, companies have to evaluate their options and take “make or buy” decisions to overcome this gap. They can manage the gap exogenously through access to third parties relying on IT suppliers or consultants or endogenously through internal development of the non-existent capabilities. The exogenous route requires necessarily the construction and management of relationships with third parties. As demonstrated by our case, the process to expand a firm's IT capabilities within client–IT relationships is long, complex and painful, especially when a large number of changes and adaptations arise. This is due to gaps between the buyer's capability to choose the product/service they need and the supplier's ability to meet their customers’ needs. This is particularly relevant in the IT market where customers not always know what to buy. In this case, companies may be keen to look for more players (for example external consultants or advisors) to minimize their capabilities gap. In our case, for example, attention was focused on a dyadic relationship but it was known that PaintCo normally takes advice from an external consultant to evaluate their decisions on IT procurement. The endogenous route, in turn, requires an internal organisation of in-house capabilities. Consultancy projects are long but not endless. IT managers and users, like someone who is learning how to drive, must be willing to practice, fail, retry and improve. Thus “learning by doing” processes are also a vehicle to boost the firm's IT capabilities. Moreover, companies, who were engaged in consultancy projects in the past, may be willing to engage in new IT projects and expand their IT capabilities without external help. They may combine the technical and managerial skills obtained by learning from previous projects with the new physical IT infrastructure and achieve new capabilities that were previously absent. In sum, we conclude that managers, IT users, consultants and IT suppliers may increase their understanding of how interactions may facilitate IT capabilities exchange across their buyer–supplier relationships and how social interactions, whether developed within, between or after consultancy projects, may arise as a promising starting point to create or enhance IT capabilities. In fact, we claim that social exchanges, in the form of informal and intensive relationships between people from both companies, exert a powerful role of leveraging IT capabilities beyond the ones expected to achieve. In this sense, given the current state of the consultancy market where capabilities, commitment and even reputation are being cautiously tested by existing and potential clients, our findings may possibly help software houses and consultancy firms reflecting on the role they wish to play as IT suppliers—an active role as a skilful partner capable of enhancing their clients’ IT capabilities or a passive role as a mere IT implementer. IT buyers, in turn, may get the most of their relationships with IT suppliers by engaging their staff in proactive “learning by doing” practices towards the enhancement of IT capabilities, within or beyond consultancy projects.