نوآوری تامین کننده، سبک های یادگیری سازمانی و عملکرد کارخانه سازنده: ارزیابی تجربی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Operations Management, Volume 28, Issue 6, November 2010, Pages 488–505
Suppliers have become an increasingly important source of product and process innovation. While case studies have documented how supplier innovation can benefit a manufacturer, this relationship has not been empirically validated, nor have contingencies been explored. Using organizational learning theory we posit that the link between supplier innovativeness and manufacturer performance is moderated by the “fit” between the learning styles of the manufacturer and supplier. We empirically test our hypotheses using hierarchical linear modeling of survey responses from 148 manufacturers concerning 592 suppliers. Results indicate that supplier innovativeness has positive impacts on multiple dimensions of manufacturer performance. Results show that when the outsourced activity involves low levels of design responsibility by the supplier, it is more beneficial for the two partners to have contrasting learning styles. However, when the outsourced activity is design-intensive, it is more beneficial to have a supplier with an explorative learning style.
As products and services continue to grow in complexity, much potentially useful knowledge will necessarily reside outside of the firm (Bercovitz and Feldman, 2007). Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, talks to this challenge (Howells et al., 2003; p. 10): “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”. For this reason firms have moved to engaging in collaborative product development (Walter, 2003 and Petersen et al., 2005), innovation alliances (Muller and Valikangas, 2002) and “open innovation” (Chesbrough, 2003) with their supply networks. Suppliers are being asked to take on greater responsibilities (Evans and Lindsay, 2005), to become design and development partners (Tyndall et al., 1998), and are increasingly held responsible for process enhancements and for new product introductions (Simpson et al., 2002). It has been debated as to whether delegating more responsibilities to suppliers actually leads to benefits for the manufacturer. Some suggest that such “outsourcing” allows for manufacturers to better focus on their core competencies (Prahalad and Hamel, 1990 and Quinn and Hilmer, 1994) thereby improving their performance (Egger and Egger, 2006). Others suggest that while there may be short term gains, in the long run outsourcing will erode the firm's internal capabilities (Doig et al., 2001, Kotabe and Murray, 2004 and Colander, 2005). The debate seems even more pronounced when outsourcing of innovation is concerned (Dankbaar, 2007 and Windrum et al., 2009). Given that innovation and innovativeness (the organizational capability behind innovations) are fundamental determinants of long term survival of firms (Christensen et al., 1998), the question has both theoretical and practical relevance. Fundamentally, benefiting from external innovation requires the transfer of knowledge (Tsai, 2001). Literature suggests for two key considerations for knowledge transfer to be effective (Szulanski, 1996, Kotabe et al., 2003 and English and Baker, 2005): (i) How much knowledge there is to transfer and (ii) how well the transfer takes place. Within the context of a manufacturer–supplier dyad, the first consideration depends on the innovativeness of the supplier. To the extent that a firm can extend its capabilities by using innovative suppliers, that should also provide measurable benefit to the manufacturer. Thus our first research question is: Do manufacturers benefit from their supplier's innovativeness? The second consideration is how well the knowledge transfer occurs, which depends on how inter-organizational learning takes place. A manufacturer with a different mind-set (Gupta et al., 2006) or learning strategy (Bierly and Hamalainen, 1995) to that of the supplier may not understand or perhaps even recognize a supplier's innovativeness. As such, a proper fit between organizational learning styles of the manufacturer and the supplier may play an important role in the knowledge transfer. Thus our second research question is: How do the learning styles of the manufacturer and supplier affect the impact of innovativeness by the supplier on performance of the manufacturer? To answer our research questions we use organizational learning theory. In addressing the first research question we explore how manufacturers benefit from supplier innovativeness. To answer the second research question we first use March's (1991) suggestion that firms learn through the combination of two styles, exploration and exploitation. While it is ideal for firms to be able to learn in both ways (Levinthal and March, 1993), one of the styles tends to become dominant over time. As first outlined in Azadegan, Dooley, Carter and Carter (2008), we propose that a firm can partially achieve a balance between exploration and exploitation by selecting suppliers with complimentary learning styles. However, in situations where the need for innovation is quite significant, such as when the supplier has a high level of design responsibility, the balance of learning styles may not be as important as the ability to explore new solutions. Thus we will propose that the best “fit” of learning styles depends on whether the supplier has a low or high level of design responsibility. This work contributes to supply chain management research in several ways. First, while a positive link between supplier innovativeness and manufacturer performance has been demonstrated in previous case studies (e.g. Chiesa et al., 2004 and Stock and Tatikonda, 2004), this relationship has never been empirically tested using a large sample survey. Previous work has also not specified how supplier innovativeness may affect different dimensions of manufacturer performance. Second, existing research has ignored the possible role of manufacturer and supplier organizational learning styles as contingencies to the knowledge transfer process. Thus our theoretical examination of the topic moves us from a simplistic understanding of innovation (i.e. “innovation is good”) to a more nuanced, complex model that is closer to reality. Third, our model could be used as a building block towards a configuration theory, as we suggest that the best fit of learning styles is dependent on the type of tasks being outsourced to the supplier. From a practical standpoint, this study identifies additional criteria for supplier selection. While we do not believe that a supplier's learning style will trump basic issues of cost, quality, and performance when a manufacturer is selecting a supplier, it may be an important consideration when capability between two or more suppliers is otherwise relatively undifferentiated. The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. The next section provides our theoretical basis, related literature on organizational learning and the hypotheses of the study. The following sections detail the study methodology, our data collection, statistical analysis approach and results. Subsequent sections explain our findings, provide some theoretical and practical implications, study limitations, and suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The aim of this research was to investigate the influence of supplier innovativeness and the fit between organizational learning styles of the supplier and the manufacturer on manufacturer's performance. Using organizational learning theory, we posited that supplier innovativeness positively affects manufacturer's cost, quality, product development, delivery and flexibility performance. Moreover, using March's concepts of exploration and exploitation, we posited that when suppliers have low levels of design responsibility, the effects of supplier innovativeness on the five dimensions of manufacturer performance are positively moderated by working with suppliers that have contrasting learning styles. Third, we posited that when suppliers have high levels of design responsibility, suppliers with higher explorative learning styles positively moderate the effects of supplier innovativeness on manufacturer performance. We tested these hypotheses using Hierarchical Linear Modeling on survey responses from 148 manufacturers on 592 of their important suppliers. Our results reveal that supplier innovativeness does have positive associations with all five of the dimensions of manufacturer performance. These results are not unexpected but quite informative. Much debate revolves around whether using suppliers as sources of innovation may have a negative effect on the manufacturer, whether enhancements in one area may require trade-offs in another. Our results suggest that manufacturers can gain from the innovativeness of the supplier to enhance their cost, quality, product development, delivery and flexibility performance of the manufacturer. Our results show that the effects of supplier innovativeness on the five dimensions of manufacturer performance are moderated by the fit between learning styles of the two organizations. As suggested in previous work (Azadegan et al., 2008) in the case where suppliers are responsible for low design responsibility, learning style fit is attained by using suppliers that have contrasting learning styles to that of the manufacturer. In such scenarios, explorative manufacturers benefit from exploitative suppliers, while exploitative manufacturers benefit from explorative suppliers. Results related to the moderating effects of learning style fit are somewhat surprising since in many cases supplier selection and choice of supply partners may be based on cultural and practical similarities rather than differences (Goerzen, 2007 and Kima and Higgins, 2007). Past research suggests for similar knowledge bases (Ahuja and Katila, 2004), and similar cultures (Simonin, 1999) to enhance knowledge exchange. Our results suggest that by aligning with suppliers that have contrasting learning styles, manufacturers can benefit more from supplier's innovativeness to enhance their cost, quality and new product development performance. Our results did not indicate as to whether a fit in learning styles moderate the effect on delivery and flexibility performance in low design responsibility cases. One possible explanation for this lack of findings is that delivery and flexibility may be more abstract concepts with varying definitions and measures. Flexibility in particular is a multifaceted concept which has been defined and categorized in many different ways (Gerwin, 1993, De Groote, 1994 and Narasimhan et al., 2003). Moreover, flexibility and delivery are closely related to time-based competition, a strategy requiring flexible manufacturing and rapid response. In this context, flexibility and delivery measure how fast one can respond to the client's demands and to changes to the client's demands. One argument for our findings is that time based competition capabilities are developed based on one's internal learning capabilities than the influence of dissimilarities in learning styles. In other words, it may be that dissimilarity in learning styles is less of a concern in enhancing capabilities related to time based competition from external innovativeness. We believe there are four key contributions to this research. First, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first large scale empirical evidence linking a partner's characteristics; i.e. learning styles to the effects of external innovativeness on internal performance. Second, what the external source, in this scenario the supplier, is tasked with has high relevance to the discussion, but has not been emphasized in past studies. We find that depending on the responsibility of the supplier (i.e. when there are knowledge-intensive design tasks involved), attempting to achieve ambidexterity may not be the best alternative. Third, we believe the study provides support on the benefits of inter-organizational learning and on the importance of considering learning contingencies in benefiting from external innovativeness. And fourth, we provide empirical support for what has been presumed by many in linking supplier innovativeness to the five dimensions of manufacturing performance. From a practical standpoint, our findings suggest that in certain conditions, differences in approach between two organizations may be more suited than similarities in their behaviors. This deliberation seems counter to what some firms may opt for. After all, conducting business with a supplier has similar stature, priorities, strategy and goals in mind should lead to more synergy and therefore enhanced benefits. As a result, there may be reassurance in working with organizations that have similarities. However, the reassurance of selecting partners that are similar may be at the expense of not having an environment suited towards allowing for innovativeness to lead to enhanced performance. As such, when innovativeness and its influence on the organization have important ramifications, organizations may need to consider selecting suppliers that have dissimilarities in learning style. As the pace and competition in a globally connected economy increases, and as the significance of innovativeness becomes more recognized (Shapiro, 2002 and Fingar, 2006), we believe that, more manufacturers may need to consider replacing the comfort of similarity for the benefits of diversity in thought. As such, selecting suppliers with consideration of complementary capabilities, such as that of higher innovativeness and fitting learning styles may become important considerations in supplier selection.