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Effective buyer‐supplier interaction patterns in ongoing service exchange

Wendy van der Valk (Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Finn Wynstra (RSM Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Björn Axelsson (Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 17 July 2009




The purpose of this paper is to develop theory on effective buyer‐seller interaction for different types of business services. A classification of business services which identifies four service types based on how they are used by the buying company is used.


Propositions based on earlier work in this area and validate these empirically by studying interaction in nine ongoing service exchanges at two different buying companies are developed.


For the three service types that could be identified in the case companies, the extent to which companies display a pattern of interaction that is in line with the proposed pattern has a positive effect on service exchange success has been largely found. Some aspects of the proposed patterns, however, seem less critical for success than others, leading to minor revisions in the effective patterns of interaction.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of this study is that only the interaction patterns for three of the four service types could be empirically validated in this paper. Further studies, exclusively aimed at testing the effectiveness of the revised interaction patterns, need to encompass all four service types.

Practical implications

The research eventually holds valuable implications for buying firms regarding the explicit and effective differentiation in interacting with their external service providers. Conversely, service providers should think about how their customers use their service to involve the appropriate seller representatives and address the right issues in the ongoing interaction.


The paper contributes to the body of knowledge in operations management by focusing on the design and management of a series of service encounters in business‐to‐business relationships. It is a first step towards empirical validation in an area with scant theoretical development.



van der Valk, W., Wynstra, F. and Axelsson, B. (2009), "Effective buyer‐supplier interaction patterns in ongoing service exchange", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 807-833.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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