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Buyer‐supplier relationships in a servitized environment: An examination with Cannon and Perreault's framework

Marko Bastl (Supply Chain Research Centre, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Mark Johnson (Supply Chain Research Centre, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Howard Lightfoot (School of Applied Sciences, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Steve Evans (Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 18 May 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine a buyer's adoption of servitization and the associated implications for the relationships with its suppliers.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use the case study approach to examine the tripartite relationship between a manufacturing company and two of its two suppliers. The paper explores the perspectives of employees on multiple organisational levels, and collects evidence on both sides of a relationship. The authors use template analysis utilising Cannon and Perreault's relationship connectors framework to analyse the data.

Findings

There are overarching implications of servitization adoption for buyer‐supplier relationships. The implications are notable in all five relationship connectors. Parties expected more open exchange of information, operational linkages were strengthened and changes in the structural arrangements of relationships were witnessed. Legal contracts are complemented by relational norms. The authors also observed a departure away from a win‐lose mentality and increased levels of supplier adaptation to support the buyer's provision of integrated solutions.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are confined to this tripartite relationship and to an extent are context specific.

Practical implications

The study unveils buyer‐supplier relationships in a servitized context and provides managers with a better understanding of some of the potential implications that the adoption of a servitization strategy may have for managing buyer‐supplier relationships.

Originality/value

This is the first empirical study that explores the implications of servitization on buyer‐supplier relationships. It advances the understanding of the implications that the adoption of servitization has on the manner in which two parties interrelate and conduct commercial exchange.

Keywords

Citation

Bastl, M., Johnson, M., Lightfoot, H. and Evans, S. (2012), "Buyer‐supplier relationships in a servitized environment: An examination with Cannon and Perreault's framework", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 650-675. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443571211230916

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited