Drawing on the customer value-based theory and the resource dependency theory, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how Chinese third-party logistics (3PL) providers leverage their customer orientation to improve operational performance directly in a stable environment or through building and maintaining high-quality 3PL relationships in an uncertain environment.
A survey-based approach is employed to collect data from managers at 132 3PL providers in mainland China. Confirmatory factor analysis is used to assess measures and hierarchical regression is utilized to test the hypothesized relationships.
This study documents significant positive effects of customer orientation and relationship quality on operational performance, as well as significant mediation effect of relationship quality. However, the effect of customer orientation on operational performance decreased, while the effect of relationship quality on operational performance became stronger, under high rather than low environmental uncertainty.
An important implication for managers based on this study is that, in order to be effective, Chinese 3PL providers would need to become more customer oriented and to continually develop and leverage high-quality 3PL relationships in order to enhance their operational performance, especially in situations of high environmental uncertainty.
The paper documents the importance of developing and leveraging high-quality 3PL relationships as a key mediator of the relationship between customer orientation and operational performance. It also documents how environmental uncertainty exerts a powerful moderating influence in this relationship, providing insights into understanding how customer orientation is leveraged by 3PL providers to improve their performance.
This research is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71402174), and Humanities and Social Planning Project of the Ministry of Education of China (No. 12YJC630026).
Chu, Z., Wang, Q. and Lado, A. (2016), "Customer orientation, relationship quality, and performance", International Journal of Logistics Management, The, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 738-754. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-08-2013-0093Download as .RIS
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