رویکرد دوتایی به تاثیر تفاوت های فرهنگ سازمانی بر عملکرد رابطه ای
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4025||2009||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 38, Issue 3, April 2009, Pages 312–323
The authors extend previous research on relationship management by investigating the potential effect of differences in organizational culture on relationship performance among 124 dyads. Theory suggests that partner similarity may improve the feeling of we-ness thereby contributing to the perceived success of inter-firm cooperation. The findings reveal that differences in organizational culture are larger in less successful inter-firm relationships, but do not influence the perceived relationship success significantly. Our results suggest that relationship managers should not confuse compatibility with similarity; personal chemistry is important for relationship atmosphere but does not solely depend on similarities. Future research in this area may wish to concentrate on a more complete measure of organizational (sub)culture(s), the different levels of analysis (personal, organizational, dyad), relationship life cycles (stage models) and the role of organizational identity.
Relationship marketing has become a central research paradigm in the marketing channels literature (Achrol, 1997, Bagozzi, 1975 and Hingley, 2005). An impressive body of conceptual and empirical literature has addressed a range of aspects of inter-firm relationships. Building on different theoretical approaches like the transaction cost approach (Williamson, 1975 and Williamson, 1985), resource dependence theory (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978) and contract theory (Macneil, 1980), numerous scholars have studied the relational aspects of exchange relationships (Heide, 1994). Empirically, concepts like dependence (Hallèn et al., 1991, Heide and John, 1988 and Ganesan, 1994), commitment (Anderson and Weitz, 1992 and Noordewier et al., 1990), trust (Brock Smith and Barclay, 1997, Ganesan, 1994, Moorman et al., 1992 and Seppänen et al., 2007) and communication (Anderson and Weitz, 1992 and Noordewier et al., 1990) have been shown to be related to the economic success of buyer–seller relations and inter-firm cooperation in general (Achrol, 1997, Heide and John, 1992, Hoffman, 2000, Kingshott, 2006 and Wren and Simpson, 1996). A number of scholars in this tradition have argued that differences in organizational culture may influence the success of buyer–seller cooperation in a negative way (Brock Smith and Barclay, 1997, Bucklin and Sengupta, 1993 and Dwyer et al., 1987). Incompatibility of the transacting organizations' operating philosophies is assumed to negatively influence the feeling of “we-ness” (Jap & Ganesan, 2000), and partner similarity in terms of working practices may be an important element of the overall ‘relational syndrome’ (Noordewier et al., 1990). Despite these arguments that differences in organizational culture may negatively influence the development and success of inter-firm cooperation, empirical evidence is rather weak (cf. Seppänen et al., 2007, p. 261). Existing empirical studies do not actually measure culture, but tend to concentrate on organizational differences in broad sense, for example strategic compatibility (Achrol et al., 1990, Brock Smith and Barclay, 1997 and Bucklin and Sengupta, 1993), are performed in an international setting conflating national and organizational culture (LaBahn and Harich, 1997, Mehta et al., 2006 and Skarmeas et al., 2002), or concern higher levels of integration, like international joint ventures or formal alliances (Haspeslagh and Jemison, 1991, Medcof, 1997 and Nahavandi and Malekzadeh, 1988). To the best of our knowledge, no large scale analysis of the role of organizational culture in regular national buyer–seller relationships has been made. Research on this issue is important because a better understanding of the role of differences in organizational culture can increase the effectiveness of inter-firm cooperation. Embedded in social exchange theory, we contribute to the existing literature in two important ways. First of all, our sample of 124 buyer–seller relationships allows us to simultaneously study the impact of cultural distance on performance as perceived by both sides of the relationship, while controlling for relational norms like trust and commitment. Such a dyadic study is important, because it has been shown that validity problems may arise regarding ‘sentiments’ variables when using only information from one side of the relationship (John & Reve, 1982). Dyadic studies require a careful methodological set up and we also show how future studies may wish to further develop such a set up to improve our understanding of the underlying drivers of the success of buyer–seller relationships. Secondly, we show that differences in organizational culture do not significantly affect the perceived success of inter-firm cooperation. This finding provides a renewed impetus to relationship marketing theory by suggesting a need for a more careful modelling of organizational cultural differences in social exchange theory. Our paper is structured in the following way. We first define organizational culture and subsequently theorize on the role of organizational cultural differences in explaining relationship performance against the background of the broader social exchange theory. We test our hypothesis on the negative effect of organizational cultural differences in a sample of 124 dyads while controlling for trust, commitment and communication. Finally, we summarize our findings, discuss the implications for theory, and provide ideas for future research. Given the exploratory nature of our research and the dyadic set up of our study, our managerial suggestions are speculative and also briefer than our suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
5.1. Implications To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first empirical attempt to test the effect of differences in organizational culture on the (mutual) perceived performance in dyadic buyer–seller relationships. Both relationship marketers and organization theorists have argued that similarity in working practices may matter for the development and success of exchange relationships. Existing empirical studies have either not measured culture, concentrated on cooperative efforts in which firms are much more strongly integrated (e.g., joint ventures), or took place in an international setting thereby conflating national and organizational culture. The main finding of this paper is that less successful inter-firm relationships do seem to be characterised by larger differences in organizational culture, but that the relationship between cultural distance and perceived relationship performance is not statistically significant. Hence, we fail to find support for the thesis that differences in organizational culture have an important impact on the success of inter-organizational relationships in the context of regular types of inter-firm cooperation between partners of one nationality. Despite the fact that some of our findings confirm previous empirical results, like the importance of trust, our findings also highlight a need for further theory development. In particular, our study suggests that it is important to develop a more elaborate theoretical framework on the interrelationship between the major aspects of relational norms. Implicitly the main reasoning in the theory discussed builds upon the idea that we can only develop a shared vision if the other is identical to us. Although there are good theoretical reasons to argue so, the question can be asked why empathy and trust are so strongly associated with similarity. A more fine-grained framework is needed that theorizes on the relationship between for instance trust and cultural differences. As one of our interviewees summarized, ‘we know they are different, and that they work different, but as long as we can trust them, I don’t see the problem’. Such anecdotal evidence suggests that the presence of trust can moderate the differences in working practices. This is in line with the suggestion put forward by Brock Smith and Barclay (1997) that organizational differences (not only culture) may play a stronger role early in a relationship when personal experience is not available to evaluate trustworthiness. One possible fruitful avenue to theorize on this issue is the inclusion of relational communication research in the framework of relationship marketing (Barry & Crant, 2000) or the inclusion of emotional intensity reflecting the strength (and not similarity) of emotional bonds (Stanko, Bonner, & Calantone, 2007). Our findings also have practical implications and complement the recent debate on the management of partnerships. In a recent special issue in this journal, Ploetner and Ehret (2006) and Spekman and Carraway (2006) described two key aspects to develop a cooperative relationship that goes beyond the transactional level. The first is a common vision of future benefits. And given this economic viability, managing successful inter-firm cooperation requires the development of common norms and values. Along these lines, Stanko et al. (2007) write that ‘managers in manufacturing firms need to develop strong behavioural and emotional ties with buyer firms in their relationship marketing strategy’, and Kingshott (2006) claims that managers should increase the level of psychological and social bonding within the relationship. Anderson and Kumar (2006) discuss the importance of personal chemistry and negative role of emotions in inter-firm interaction. Our study allows us to refine these managerial implications by pointing out that these bonding strategies need not imply bonding in terms of similarity. A shared vision can also be achieved between partner firms with different organizational cultures, a conclusion which is important in this broader context. It is important to recognize this before managers start investing in relationship management programs by pushing towards a similarity which may not yield the expected benefits. Managers focusing too much on achieving similarity may perhaps even generate negative emotions and frustrate the process of building a high quality relationship (Nooteboom, 2002). A shared understanding of the differences may in fact be an important source of trust, as illustrated earlier. Spekman and Carraway (2006, p. 13) even mention the competency to ‘embrace other cultures’ as an important element of the skills required for developing successful partnerships. This is also in line with the argumentation by Rigby et al. (2002), who basically argue that it is the ‘unquestionability’ and often implicit character of cultural differences that yields (interaction) problems, and as suggested and complemented by our findings — not the mere fact that cultures differ as such. In other words, it may be good that managers make explicit (and sometimes also question) their organization's assumptions and key values as part of an overall relationship management strategy. If organizational norms and values are communicated, and known to the partner, this may in fact positively affect the relational quality. Acknowledging the difficulty of proving that customer or partnership relationship management actually has an economic payoff (Richard & Jones, 2008), the results of our study clearly imply that organizational cultural similarity is not something to be aimed for. 5.2. Limitations and suggestions for future research Our dyadic set up has been a major strength of this study. However, it also entails a number of limitations. Firstly, we have concentrated on average proxies for the organizational culture of a firm, whereas literature suggests culture is a systemic concept encompassing several dimensions (Detert et al., 2000, Denison, 1996 and Hofstede et al., 1990) Although we found no relationship between organizational culture and mutual relationship performance, it might be that specific dimensions of organizational culture matter, while others do not. Empirically, such an approach would be extremely demanding in terms of data and methodological set up. Not only would relational characteristics have to be measured, but also extensive measures of the cultures of both partners have to be developed. Straightforward calculation for a sample of 100 relationships learns that this would require at least: (20 respondents in each firm) × (2 for the hub and spoke) × (100 firms) = 4000 people willing to fill in a survey measuring organizational culture. In addition one would need information on the 100 relations from a dyadic perspective. Related to the above argument on the concept of one organizational culture, the theoretical reasoning in this paper implicitly assumes that the boundary spanning individuals identify with their own firm. But the existence of background cultures (Deshpandé & Webster, 1989), for example related to departments such as marketing, finance or manufacturing could be important for understanding the perceived feelings of we-ness between the boundary spanning individuals (Seppänen et al., 2007). It could be that during the process – or even before – these individuals identify more with the other on a personal basis than with their own organization. This issue of identity is important, as one explanation for the existence of firms at all, is that employees identify with ‘their’ organization (Simon, 1947). Organizational identity consists of those attributes that members feel are fundamental to (central) and uniquely descriptive of (distinctive) the organization, and that also persist within the organization over time (enduring) (Albert & Whetten, 1985). This is closely related to the concept of organizational culture (Ravasi & Schultz, 2006), and also related to the perception of differences in organizational culture, as identity relates to the perspective of the other on oneself (Who we are is at least partly defined on who the other is, see Huemer, 2004). The interrelationship between identity (creation), perceived differences in organizational culture and relationship management is interesting to explore in future research. In doing so, it may be important to take the different levels of analysis (personal, organizational, dyadic) into account, something which has recently started in research on the process of trust building in inter-organizational cooperation ( Seppänen et al., 2007, Krishnan et al., 2007, Janowicz and Noorderhaven, 2006 and Janowicz, 2004). Thirdly, we have implicitly assumed that differences in organizational culture are relevant in all stages of inter-firm cooperation. However, a variable may be active at certain stages and become latent in others (Wilson, 1995). Dwyer et al. (1987) have described a relationship development process, describing which elements are relevant in what stage (awareness, exploration, expansion, commitment, and dissolution). Similar stage models have been proposed by Heide (1994), Jap and Ganesan (2000), Johnson and Selnes (2004), and most recently Anderson and Kumar (2006). The question is where organizational cultural differences fit in. Dwyer et al. (1987) have suggested that value similarity may be especially relevant in the exploration stage. Moreover, it may be argued that organizational cultural differences may not be relevant to the same extent in all modes of governance (Heide, 1994). ‘Market governance relies primarily on the design of an incentive structure for obtaining certain behaviours, whereas [..] bilateral governances rely on a combination of rules and monitoring and socialization efforts’ (Heide, 1994, p. 82). In our research design we have not been able to distinguish between these two ends of the governance continuum. Fourthly, although most of the limitations of this study are frequently found in studies on relationship marketing and we believe do not compromise the integrity of our research, they do limit the extent of generalization and warrant careful interpretation of the conclusions. The major limitation of this study has been the limited number of observations, which consequently raised problems in terms of empirical testing. Acknowledging the multi-directional causality issue, we first performed a rather straightforward analysis of variance. Subsequently, using a (logit) regression analysis we tested the simultaneous effects of trust, commitment, etc. and cultural differences on mutual relationship satisfaction. Given their theoretical interdependence a structural equations model (SEM) would be a suitable way to proceed in the future. However, the enormous data collection effort in terms of time and resources that would be required to allow SEM forms a major impediment. Fifthly, the research design entailed that participants focus on a number of particular relationships that would allow us to obtain paired responses to make meaningful comparisons. As we described in the introduction, this dyadic approach is a major strength compared to existing unidirectional relationship research. At the same time, it is a weakness, because it implies the results of this study most likely apply to the more important and successful relationships firms have. In other words, strong negative experiences with some firms are likely to be not included because firms are expected to discontinue these. Hence, we cannot rule out that the insignificant result regarding the role of cultural differences may be caused by the (self selection) bias in the sample towards good (or at least not very bad) relationships. In addition, we have allowed key informants to self-select partners, which may have created a halo effect, resulting in a consistently high or low fashion on all of our relevant measures. Though our principal components analysis suggests otherwise, and this problem only holds for our hub firms because our spokes were confronted with pre-selected partners, future research may consider this more explicitly (e.g. as in Mohr et al., 1996).