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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of World Business, Volume 46, Issue 4, October 2011, Pages 487–496
As monitoring mechanisms are critical to exporter–distributor relationships, the effectiveness of different types of monitoring mechanisms remains an important issue. Our study goes beyond the separate effects of monitoring mechanisms on opportunism, and tests the moderating effects of market orientation (MO) and norm-based information exchange on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship. Based on survey data of 160 export ventures in China, we find that process control increases distributor opportunism, while norm-based information exchange and MO decrease it. Moreover, at high levels of norm-based information exchange and MO, the impact of process control on opportunism turns from positive to negative.
Globalization and rapidly changing environments have exerted an enormous pressure on exporters to better manage their relationships with distributors. As a result, the critical role of relationship governance has received considerable attention in the marketing and international business literature (Aulakh et al., 1996, Leonidou et al., 2002, Luo, 2007, Luo et al., 2009 and Wathne and Heide, 2004). As distributors are prone to behave opportunistically because they only have partially overlapping interests with exporters, exporters resort to employing different types of governance mechanisms to reduce such opportunistic behavior (Luo, 2007 and Wathne and Heide, 2000). Conflicting theoretical arguments and empirical results on the effectiveness of monitoring as a formal governance mechanism to reduce opportunism have yet to be resolved (Carson et al., 2006, Deci et al., 1999, Heide et al., 2007, John, 1984 and Williamson, 1985). Although the literature has identified information asymmetry as a major cause of opportunistic behavior (e.g., Joshi, 2009 and Wu et al., 2007), limited research has systematically examined the crucial role of information generation and sharing as informal governance mechanisms and simultaneously their contingent effects on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship. Our study attempts to uncover the complexity behind governance mechanisms and contribute to the relationship marketing literature in three ways. First, since previous research has suggested that monitoring can both reduce (e.g., Luo, 2007 and Stump and Heide, 1996) and increase (Deci et al., 1999) opportunism, it is imperative to examine the differential effects of various forms of monitoring mechanisms, such as process and output control, on opportunism. Process control is used to govern distributors’ daily actions. Output control measures visible consequences of accumulated outcomes (Bello and Gilliland, 1997 and Heide et al., 2007). These are distinct monitoring mechanisms that exhibit differential effects on opportunism (Anderson and Oliver, 1987 and Joshi, 2009). Heide et al. (2007) recently found that micro-level social contracts strengthen the positive effect of output control and offset the negative effect of process control on opportunism. Following this direction, we attempt to explore other possible contingencies in our study. Specifically, we move beyond the separate effects of monitoring mechanisms and test the moderating effects of norm-based information exchange and market orientation on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship. Second, the governance literature has identified bilateral relational norms as an important informal mechanism besides unilateral monitoring (Aulakh et al., 1996, Bello et al., 2003 and Gencturk and Aulakh, 2007). Previous studies have found that norm-based information exchange can promote bilateral trust, thus improving the market performance of a partnership (Aulakh et al., 1996). Although theory suggests that formal (i.e., monitoring mechanisms) and informal governance (i.e., relational norms) mechanisms may serve as functional substitutes (Coleman, 1990 and Luo, 2007), whether formal and informal governance mechanisms may also serve as functional complements have received limited attention. We examine this possibility by investigating the effect on distributor opportunism when monitoring mechanisms and the norm-based information exchange are both present. Third, the essence of the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship is that distributors tend to have more information about customers and competitors in foreign markets than exporters (Crosno & Dahlstrom, 2008). An exporter that possesses sufficient information and knowledge about the export market would be in a better position in resolving its distributors’ opportunism problems because its information superiority may deter opportunism. As a fundamental construct in the marketing discipline, market orientation in the export context provides exporters with knowledge about current and future customers, competitors, and the dynamics in the external environment (Atuahene-Gima, 2005, Cadogan et al., 2002, Gebhardt et al., 2006 and Kotler, 2000). To date, the impact of market orientation on distributor opportunism has yet to be examined in the export literature. Furthermore, although it is understood that market orientation and monitoring mechanisms coexist, the exact nature of their interrelationship has not been explored, and little is known about how different monitoring mechanisms work in tandem with market orientation activities to reduce distributor opportunism. In our study, we coalesce these two important research streams and investigate the moderating role of exporters’ market orientation on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship in the export markets. We focus on the separate and joint effects of monitoring mechanisms, the norm-based information exchange, and market orientation on reducing distributor opportunism and empirically test these relationships in an emerging economy context, China. Using a cross-industry sample of 160 export ventures, we aim to extend the understanding of governance mechanisms in inter-firm relationships by investigating the moderating effects of norm-based information exchange and market orientation on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our study aims to extend the relationship marketing literature by investigating the separate and joint effects of monitoring mechanisms with norm-based information exchange and market orientation activities on distributor opportunism in an export context. We chose China as our research context due to its significant role in world trade and export activities (Gao, Murray, Kotabe, & Lu, 2010). China became the world's largest exporter with US$1.22 trillion in exports volume in 2007 (The World Factbook, 2008). Thus, the Chinese market provides an excellent research context to study the exporter–distributor relationship (Luo, 2006). Our study contributes to the literature in the following three aspects. First, previous research has provided mixed arguments and evidence on monitoring as a governance mechanism to reduce exchange parties’ opportunistic activities (Deci et al., 1999 and Sewell and Baker, 2006). Heide et al. (2007) examined the moderating effect of social contract on the monitoring–opportunism relationship and called for research to provide more insights on the complex governance processes. Following this direction, we introduce the prominent role of information gathering and sharing, which represents the most important resource that a firm can control and the necessary prerequisites for the deployment of governance mechanisms (Atuahene-Gima, 2005, Barney, 1991 and Kogut and Zander, 1992). The emphasis on market information provides exporters with a deeper knowledge about customers and competitors to ensure governance effectiveness. Thus, our study goes beyond the single effects of monitoring mechanisms by investigating their joint effects with norm-based information exchange and market orientation. This contributes to the contingency perspective on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship. Second, distributor opportunism may arise due to the embeddedness of foreign market knowledge held by distributors in the export market and their unwillingness to share information with exporters (Wu et al., 2007). By focusing on norm-based information exchange, our study suggests that mutual positive attitude towards information exchange reduces the chance of opportunistic behavior. Our study also sheds light on the “complex interactions” between formal and informal relationship elements (Gibbons, 1999). By examining the simultaneous effect of norm-based information exchange and monitoring mechanisms, we provide evidence that informal governance mechanisms are important complements for the deployment of formal monitoring forms. Specifically, process control, coupled with norm-based information exchange, helps empower exporters in reducing distributor opportunism. Altogether, our study underscores the importance of information gathering and utilization in export markets (Atuahene-Gima, 2005). For those exporters that generate market intelligence through market-oriented activities, they can establish norm-based information exchange which enables them to achieve better relationship marketing by reducing distributor opportunism. Third, inadequate knowledge about the export markets may dilute the effectiveness of monitoring mechanisms (Bello & Gilliland, 1997). By synthesizing the two research streams on relationship marketing and market orientation, we empirically explored the effect of exporters’ market orientation activities on reducing distributor opportunism and its moderating effect on the monitoring mechanism–opportunism relationship. Our findings suggest that, although process control is shown to increase distributor opportunism, market orientation activities may help attenuate such a positive effect, thus reducing distributor opportunism. Exporters’ generation and dissemination of and responsiveness to market intelligence act as a safeguard against their distributor's opportunistic behavior. Moreover, market orientation serves as a key mechanism through which the information dimension of control is exerted and helps offset the positive effect of process control by offering valuable market know-how and developing useful operational guidelines. In summary, our findings reveal the important role of market orientation in helping exporters reduce distributor opportunism.