Paper info: Buyer-Supplier Interactions in Business Services: Stability and Change in Relational Interfaces
Buyer-Supplier Interactions in Business Services: Stability and Change in Relational Interfaces
Luis de Castro
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.
Abstract Business services have a growing importance since they increasingly become a considerable share of many firms‟ external resources. Therefore, the interactive processes involved in the acquisition and exchanges of these services need cumulative understanding and descriptions from scholars. In this study, patterns of interaction are sought through the mapping of both structural and process dimensions of interaction. Furthermore, we propose the investigation of an additional dimension of variety, by integrating the dimension of relational interfaces. We also suggest that the presence of variety in terms of interface, their stability and change, even within the same type of services (according to the application context, as defined) is inseparable from learning over time, both directly (i.e., at the dyad) and indirectly (i.e., in connected relationships). Exploratory case study research was conducted into on-going buyer-seller interaction, using in-depth interviews as the main data collection method. The results show that interaction patterns from two of the proposed categories for types of services could be identified, namely, instrumental and consumption services. Moreover, variety was present in the interface supplier-buyer within a specific type of service. In fact, the business services‟ supplier positions itself towards the focal customers‟ within an array of three different interfaces: specific, translation and interactive. Furthermore, evolvement was shown to be inseparable from learning, that indeed occurred from repeated exchanges within the focal relationships, but more importantly, from the learning that occurred in the connected relationships. Keywords: Business services – patterns of interaction – relational interfaces