Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

Terry L. Esper

Committee Members

Wendy L. Tate, Kenneth J. Petersen, Robert T. Ladd

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate and begin to formulate an understanding of supplier accommodation of customers from the supplier’s perspective, its impact on supplier relational performance outcomes, and the associated impact on buyer’s perceptions and evaluation of the relationship. Supplier accommodation of customers (SAC) is defined as the supplier’s efforts to make special adjustments in response to a specific customer’s changing needs and unforeseen changes, and is conceptualized as consisting of elements of supplier flexibility and supplier adaptation. Extant research has focused on the buyer’s perspective of SAC, with little regard for the supplier’s perspective of relational performance outcomes. Because supply chains by their nature involve multiple organizations (Mentzer et al. 2001), evaluating the supply chain implications of SAC requires consideration of the roles of all parties, as buyer and supplier perspectives on relationship issues can differ considerably (Nyaga et al. 2010).

This focus on one side of the SAC equation risks missing some elements of the complexity of SAC; additional areas not yet examined in extant research include the interaction of flexibility and adaptation as elements of SAC, the potential for role conflict associated with SAC, suppliers’ perceptions of the relational performance implications of SAC, and the link between supplier’s perceptions of SAC and buyers’ future perceptions and performance. This research begins to address these gaps and integrates social exchange theory and role theory to theoretically ground two scenario-based experimental design studies. The first experiment examines the supplier’s perspective of SAC and associated role conflict and the associated relational and behavioral outcomes, while the second study approaches SAC from the buyer’s perspective to investigate potential feedback effects of SAC and role conflict on buyer’s future expectations and evaluations of the relationship. Both experimental studies are then followed up by group interviews based on a grounded-theory philosophy. This qualitative follow-up provides insights into how both experimental studies connect and yields broader findings and supply chain implications for the dissertation research as a whole.

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