ادراک و عوامل اجتماعی موثر بر مدیریت عرضه: دستور کار پژوهشی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8819||2007||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Volume 13, Issue 4, December 2007, Pages 304–316
Acknowledging the influence of individuals in shaping supplier relationships, the question is what determines the way these individuals behave in this respect. In search for an adequate methodology to find an answer to this question, this contribution aims to show the potential value of research into perception and social factors and the way they influence supply management. A methodology is presented, based on the exploration of (1) the factors that influence individuals’ perception of the context they operate in and (2) the effect this has on the way these individuals manage supply relations. Through interviews and a survey, this paper explores an earlier published conceptual framework, where four factors were found to influence perception and supply relationship management: (1) membership of social networks, (2) the organisational view of purchasing, (3) the position of purchasing in the organisational hierarchy and (4) critical incidents. The results of this explorative exercise indicate that, indeed, (a) social factors influence individuals’ perception and (b) they are relevant to explain how supplier relations are managed in practice. Therefore, an agenda for future research is presented.
Managing supply relations has long been recognised as a key factor that can affect an organisation's success (Porter, 1980; Lamming, 1993; Mol, 2003; Cousins and Spekman, 2003; Cousins, 2005). The importance has even increased with the belief that supply chains (or networks) compete and it is no longer an issue of single organisations (Håkansson, 1987; Christopher, 1999). From a purchasing perspective, the management of supplier relations involves: (a) Managing a portfolio of relations, differentiating between different types of relations and adjusting relations to different situations (cf. Kraljic, 1983; Olsen and Ellram, 1997; Cousins, 2002). (b) The actual decisions and behaviour in the dyadic relations after having categorised them as a specific type of relation, e.g. long-term partnerships with intensive contact and investments versus a short term, arm's length relationship (cf. Ford, 1980; Håkansson, 1987; Lamming, 1993). As organisations are regarded as open systems (Boulding, 1956; Katz and Kahn, 1966/1978), they are influenced in their behaviour by their environment (cf. contingency theory: Burns and Stalker, 1961; Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967). The same statement can be applied to supplier relations: how these are managed, is influenced by the environment. This however assumes that the environment can be objectively known and measured by all (Burrell and Morgan, 1979), which ignores the important role individuals play in determining organisational behaviour and, that the perception of the environment to which we react, is subjective (March and Simon, 1958; March, 1994; Weick, 1995). Individuals—in our case purchasers—have to make sense of their environment. Yet, which role factors play that influence purchasers’ perception, or how this affects supplier relation management, is unclear. Perception is a general concept and can be seen as the outcome of a sensemaking process (Weick, 1995). The ‘subject’ of perception is the world around us of which we as individuals try to make sense, to enable us to exist (Kelly, 1955), give us identity (Weick, 1995) and direct behaviour (Webster and Wind, 1972). Perception is hence not specifically related to purchasing, it plays a role in many different fields, as it is inextricably bound to people. In this paper, perception is treated as a ‘picture’ of the relevant business environment to which the management of supplier relations is adjusted. Perception is context specific and therefore is ultimately interconnected to an objective and to action—in our case: the management of supplier relations to fulfil a certain buying need. As managing supplier relations is the adjustment to this ‘picture’ of the environment, in this research we focus on the ‘perception of managing supplier relations’. This contribution offers some exploratory findings on the role of perception and the factors that influence an individual's perceived relevant environment and appropriate way of managing supplier relations. We propose a future research agenda, based on the methods applied and discussed in this contribution, the way we operationalised concepts together with our exploratory findings. We build on previous work (Kamann and Bakker, 2004) and do not suggest that the concepts we use are ‘new’, yet the way they are combined and by explicitly taking into account individual's perception of managing supplier relationships we believe to contribute to purchasing literature and research. This paper is structured as follows: presentation of the conceptual framework in the context of existing literature, methodology, findings, discussion and a concluding research agenda.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our exploratory research has indicated that three social factors—a purchaser’s trajectory through social groups, the organisational worldview of purchasing (SNO) and a purchaser’s social position in the organisation (position in the NSO)—are relevant to understanding how supplier relations are managed in practice. With the position of the purchaser, it is also relevant to look at the position of the purchasing department within an organisation, as this can often say something about the standing and recognition of purchasing as an important function within an organisation. As an additional factor, we found that critical incidents play a role in explaining how people manage their supplier relations. Critical incidents can become part of an organisational belief system and the resulting recipes become institutionalised routines. As such, our findings do offer tentative support for the theory that indeed socio-psychological factors help to explain supplier relationship management, which therefore is not merely driven by economic factors. Economic factors can be the trigger for action and could for example help explain the termination of an existing supplier relation or start of a new one, but cannot necessarily explain the type of action or how the subsequent new relation is managed. This implies more research is needed into individual and social group behaviour to understanding purchasing practices. The research we described in this paper was limited: it was of an explorative nature, aiming to find if and how social factors played a role in how supplier relations are managed. The results however, offer a starting point for further research in the role of perception and the influence of the various social factors in purchasing and supply behaviour. We explored the use of two methodologies: a qualitative line using interviews and causal mapping; and a quantitative line using a survey, vignettes, SPSS and LISREL. Reflecting on these two methodologies, we found that interviews and causal mapping were useful in finding the right issues and aspects that play a role. Distilling the proper discriminating variables is of key importance since they can be used in the more quantitative methodologies. Therefore, the steps for further research on this topic would consist of a short- and medium-term agenda, and a long-term agenda. 7.1. Short- and medium-term agenda This agenda would focus on validating and further specifying the theoretical model used. It would (1) start with validating the importance and nature of the four types of forces we found: (a) background: past trajectories, social groups; (b) SNO: the worldview; (c) NSO: status and hierarchy and (d) institutionalised critical incidents. In order to do this, we have to take the next step: (2) further operationalise these concepts, using participative research, text analysis, case studies, story telling and related techniques. In our description above, we already gave a number of ways to do this. ‘Background’ first of all is city of birth, nationality, marital status, age, sex and other generally used background variables. Then we may add professional background—education and income. Number of years in the purchasing profession may be useful to include. The construct ‘social groups’ can be further explored along the lines we indicated earlier: (a) social groups in the private context, (b) former organisation (or job), (c) education/courses and (d) contact networks. ‘Social groups in the private context’ can be further broken down into various sub-groups, like friends, family, sports, religion, travel, internet chat groups and so on. A useful criterion for relevance is the discriminatory power: to what extent is a variable able to discriminate between different groups in a way that makes sense to the researcher. ‘Former organisation’ can be operationalised by categorising the former organisations in type of industry—trade, retail, production company, project based industry, process industry—adding features like ‘innovative’ or ‘consumer A Brand’ and so on. Or, express the type of company in a score of assumed level of professionalism, which of course is rather arbitrary. ‘Contact networks’ can be further broken down into internal contact networks (e.g. working groups, departments), external general contact networks (e.g. conferences, trade-shows) and external specific contact networks (e.g. industry and profession specific networks). To visualise these social groups, Graph Theory derived software is available to show membership, statistical centrality, statistical hierarchy and other social aspects (Wasserman and Faust, 1994). However, researchers should be careful with the interpretation of these pictures (Kamann, 1998): they show the existence of a relation but not the contents and strategic value in determining ones mental map, in conditioning a member. As inputs, membership lists, lists of participants to conferences, workshops or special events can be used. Also here, multi-dimensional scaling could be used to discover ‘hidden’ dimensions in what people say in interviews and from multiple cause diagrams. We did not elaborate on the concepts SNO and NSO in the survey and used a proxy variable in our LISREL model. Therefore, these concepts would have our preference to further specify and measure. SNO—Company Worldview—could be operationalised by studying ISO Manuals, company policy documents and interviews with purchasing and non-purchasing managers and users. The NSO—hierarchy and status—could be inferred from the organisational design, lines of command, minutes of meetings: who actually decides on purchasing issues, budget limits, responsibilities, authority and at what level and so on. Especially here, we would propose sociological and anthropological research methods to ensure validity and reliability. We would not be surprised to find coalitions, cliques, conspiracies and other social elements to be part and parcel of this part of the real world. Because of this, we propose to apply research methods from social sciences to study these concepts. Critical incidents may be traced from routines and recipes that do not conform to what people say the company actually should do, or from story telling. Also, the CIT could be used to elicit a number of incidents, the contextual circumstances and the responses to these incidents. As the criticality of incidents is in the eye of the beholder, the level of analysis again is the individual. In fact, the factor ‘critical incidents’ is—statistically speaking—an error factor or a residual term, since it explains some of the variance in behaviour that is not according what the book says, the teacher said, or the general professional paradigm states, and therefore cannot be explained by the other three factors. Having operationalised the exogenous variables—our four factors—it is (3) time to do the same for the endogenous variables: actual supplier management behaviour. Here, we point at the usefulness of ‘vignettes’ in the next step: describing certain situations where the respondent has to make a choice between certain actions. The characteristic features of these actions—for instance single sourcing versus dual or multiple sourcing; frequent contacts, contact by fax or face-to-face or not at all; long-term contracts or spot market one-offs; tender, reversed auctioning, other bidding method or usual supplier—can be seen as a library of various types of purchasing supplier management actions and their characteristics. Once all factors and possible actions are described in proper qualitative sense, we come to (4) actually measure the operationalised concepts and—based on survey data-use these for further quantitative analysis, trying to find significant relations between the various concepts used. This may range from a frequency distribution, and a straightforward correlation analysis to more advanced types like LISREL models, Discriminant analysis or other types of multi-variance analyses. As stated above, to actually measure critical incidents is likely to be measuring ‘deliberate deviant behaviour with a good reason from the past’. This assumes awareness among respondents that this indeed is a deviant routine, originating from a critical incident from the past. Because of this, this seems the most difficult factor to actually measure. Although with the survey the unit of analysis in determining the link between background and perception is the individual, as perception is subjective, the concepts SNO and NSO are measured at an organisational level for the particular respondent. More respondents from the same company enable the researcher to keep some of the exogenous factors constant—competitive environment, scarcity, etc.—and test some of the more detailed variables from the variance in behaviour of these respondents. Similarly, respondents with rather similar backgrounds but from different companies within the same sector can be used to check on the role of SNO and NSO—the organisational dimensions. Finally, controlling for individual backgrounds and company specific factors like SNO and NSO can test the industry specific influence. 7.2. The long-term agenda Once we have answered the research questions above—‘What is the link between a purchaser's background, the contextual factors and the actions taken in terms of supply management?’—a second important strand for future research is related to ‘change management’. We have three topics here. (1) How to change an individual’s perception? This could be researched by assessing the affect of certain social network interventions on people's perceptions (e.g. through using mental mapping before and after a training course to assess the impact on someone's frame of reference). Again, the unit of analysis will be the individual, given that perception is subjective. (2) How does the social status of purchasing in organisations change? Case studies could focus on the way purchasing changed in organisations, using different individuals’ perspectives. As social positions are the result of social negotiation processes and group behaviour, the appropriate level of analysis is thought to be that of the organisation. Drawing on these case studies, survey data could determine which factors show stronger correlations between social status and influence. Also, how effective certain interventions have been to change purchasers’ influence on purchasing decisions. (3) How to prevent critical incidents? The outcome of CIT could subsequently be used to construct a list of types of incidents and possible ways to prevent them and, if they do occur, a repertory of ‘best reactions’. These could be derived from a survey using vignettes to assess whether there is a ‘best practice’ response to these events. For all future research on this topic, we propose a balance between qualitative and quantitative research. The first type to make sure we look at the proper variables. The second type to test our hypotheses and find out what is significant in determining behaviour and what is not. A final remark relates to the theoretical framework used. We study human behaviour, and therefore suggest applying theories that deal with human behaviour and the motivations of people why they do things. This will make it possible to understand actions observed and especially, why these actions deviate so often from the ones we prescribe in our purchasing textbooks.