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Paper info: Using Means-end Approaches to Understand Business Complaint Management

Title


Using Means-end Approaches to Understand Business Complaint Management

Authors


Alexander Reppel,
Bahar Ashnai
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom
Bahar Ashnai ,
Pete Naude
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom
Pete Naude , Stephan Henneberg and Thorsten Gruber

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.

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Abstract


This paper explores the nature of complaint management in business relationships. The particular emphasis is on the qualities and behaviours that affect buying companies as part of the complaint handling encounter with a supplier. An exploratory empirical study using a 'hard' laddering approach provides a deeper understanding of the attributes of effective complaint management in business-to-business relationships, and reveals the underlying benefits that buying organizations are looking for when complaining. The research indicates that complaining companies perceive disruptions of their supplier relationships in the context of the business network within which they are embedded, especially vis--vis the benefits associated with long-term supplier ties, but also in the context of the effects on down-stream customers. Issues of effective complaint management in business-to-business settings therefore need to be addressed not just as isolated managerial activities with limited benefits for the parties involved, but should be seen as being part of a wider activity set of strategic networking activities with an impact on whole business systems. This study is the first application of a means-end and laddering approach to the area of understanding business-to-business complaint management. Besides this methodological contribution, our analysis and findings also enrich the existing limited stock of knowledge on complaint management in business relationships by developing a deeper understanding of the attributes (i.e. characteristics and behaviours) that complaining customer companies desire from suppliers, as well as the underlying business logic (i.e. values) for these expectations.