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Manufacturer-supplier relationships and service performance in service triads

Antonios Karatzas (International Institute for Product and Service Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Coventry, UK)
Mark Johnson (Department of Operations Management, Warwick Business School, Coventry, UK)
Marko Bastl (College of Business Administration, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of the manufacturer-supplier relationship in service performance within service triads.


An abductive case-research approach was adopted, using three embedded cases and 26 interviews in complex, multilevel manufacturer-supplier relationships within the same service network. Cannon and Perreault’s (1999) multidimensional relationship framework was deployed to achieve granular and nuanced insight.


This study corroborates the idea that relational relationships within service triads and servitization improve performance. The role of each relationship dimension in service performance is discerned and their interplay is captured in an analytic model. Information exchange, supplier relationship-specific adaptations, and the degree of formalization of the relationship directly influence performance, while cooperative norms and operational linkages are further back in the causal ordering. The study also highlights the importance of contingent factors (the size of the service site, the proportion of its revenues coming from service contract activities) and how they affect the relationship dimensions.

Research limitations/implications

The work was conducted in one network and the findings were generalized to theory rather than additional empirical settings.


This study is the first to derive a contextualized causal ordering of the Cannon and Perreault (1999) framework of relationship connectors and link it with service performance.



Karatzas, A., Johnson, M. and Bastl, M. (2017), "Manufacturer-supplier relationships and service performance in service triads", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 37 No. 7, pp. 950-969.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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