This study aims to identify and analyze factors affecting the business-to-business (B2B) relationship between Sri Lankan telecommunication operators and vendors. The authors conduct a survey and develop models to explain relationship strength and satisfaction. The authors find that telecommunication operators and vendors value trust, commitment, adaptation and communication. Operator satisfaction varies by perception of product quality, service support, delivery performance, supplier know-how and value for money. The vendor’s relationship strength is impacted by trust and commitment; vendor satisfaction is affected by economic factors and referencing. The authors suggest formulating management strategies using these results to strengthen business relationships.
The authors develop two conceptual models to analyze the supplier and customer perspectives. This study’s drafted models were drawn from established models and were presented to experts in the industry, both telecommunication operators and vendors. Models were modified based on experts’ feedback, and hypotheses were developed from the conceptual models, developed separately for the two perspectives. Data collection was done via questionnaires; 150 questionnaires were sent via email to identified telecommunication operators and 100 questionnaires were sent via email to identified telecommunication vendors, with follow-up emails and telephone calls to improve response rates.
This study’s findings show that employees in the telecommunication industry recognize the importance of B2B relationships. Employees of both telecommunication operators and vendors agree that stronger relationships are advantageous. The correlation and regression analysis results identify factors that affect the B2B relationship. The following factors impact the strength of B2B relationships irrespective of view point: trust, commitment and satisfaction. The following factors were found to significantly affect the strength of B2B relationships between telecommunication operators and vendors from the operator perspective: adaptation and communication.
To enhance relationship strength, the management of operator organizations should take action to improve trust, commitment and satisfaction. Demonstrating honesty and integrity when dealing with vendors and exhibiting concern for the other party’s interests can help establish trust or enhance trust in existing relationships. Displaying commitment toward the vendor will also facilitate stronger relationships. Reasonable profits for both parties and sizeable business volume will also help satisfy vendors, increasing relationship strength. Positive referencing of the vendor in industrial and public forums will improve vendor satisfaction, enhancing relationship strength. Reputational capital can be built and maintained for both operators and vendors by keeping promises and defending the other party to outsiders. For managers of telecommunications operators and vendors in other emerging markets, this study’s results are important and can inform internal business practices to support trust, commitment and satisfaction.
This study contributes to the existing literature in two ways, a focus on the telecommunication industry and a previously unexplored emerging market, Sri Lanka. In addition, this study includes an analysis of the relationship from both the operator and vendor perspectives.
Dasanayaka, S., Al Serhan, O., Glambosky, M. and Gleason, K. (2020), "The business-to-business relationship: examining Sri Lankan telecommunication operators and vendors", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-06-2019-0303Download as .RIS
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