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The role of social media in managing supplier attractiveness: An investigation of business-to-business markets

Zsófia Tóth (School of Business, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Martin Liu (School of Business, University of Nottingham – Ningbo China, Ningbo, China)
Jun Luo (Department of EMM, University of Nottingham – Ningbo China, Ningbo, China)
Christos Braziotis (School of Business, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 17 December 2019

Issue publication date: 19 September 2020

1790

Abstract

Purpose

Managing attractiveness is a constant challenge to mobilize relationship-specific investments, especially in a business environment increasingly enhanced by social media (SM) activities. There is limited knowledge on how SM activities contribute to supplier attractiveness, so decisions about strategizing with SM and consequent resource allocations become highly uncertain. The purpose of this paper is to examine how suppliers’ SM activities influence supplier attractiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

Altogether, 57 senior managers were interviewed: 32 semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with senior managers in strategic decision-making roles regarding SM on the supplier side, along with 20 senior managers responsible for purchasing or looking after supplier development; one-to-one interviews were complemented by a focus group with 5 senior managers on the buyer side.

Findings

The study reveals an inverse U-shaped relationship between the intensity of the supplier’s SM activity and its attractiveness and offers a set of propositions about the influence of SM on supplier attractiveness, with special regard to the perceived risks of increased transparency and becoming “too social” on SM.

Practical implications

The study highlights SM management results for supplier attractiveness and their impact areas on business growth and supply chain development.

Originality/value

This paper provides in-depth insights into the role of SM in managing supplier attractiveness. Various effects of SM activities are identified that aim to contribute to the body of literature on supplier attractiveness as well as SM management in buyer–supplier relationships.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71972112) and the Zhejiang Natural Science Foundation (LQ17G020009).

Citation

Tóth, Z., Liu, M., Luo, J. and Braziotis, C. (2020), "The role of social media in managing supplier attractiveness: An investigation of business-to-business markets", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 625-646. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-04-2019-0321

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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