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IT and relationship learning in networks as drivers of green innovation and customer capital: evidence from the automobile sector

Antonio Leal-Millán (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain)
Jose Luis Roldán (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain)
Antonio L. Leal-Rodríguez (Universidad Loyola Andalucía, Sevilla, Spain)
Jaime Ortega-Gutiérrez (Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 9 May 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the positive effects of customer capital (CC), questions remain over how managers enable CC growth by applying their skills and capabilities through managerial actions and strategies, such as developing information technology (IT) capability, fostering relationship learning (RL) activities and developing green innovation performance (GIP) with clients. These questions are especially pertinent in small and medium-sized enterprises and automotive industry companies that operate through supply chains, where knowledge about customers is likely to result from personal contact between customers and organisational members. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the extent to which these managerial actions were more likely to lead to the successful creation of CC.

Design/methodology/approach

Using the partial least squares technique, this paper studies how these three managerial actions impact on CC. To do so, data from 140 companies in the Spanish automotive components manufacturing sector have been used.

Findings

The findings support the influence of RL on both GIP and CC. RL is a key managerial action in exploiting customer information and knowledge advantages, enabling firms to structure and reconfigure resources to produce new ways to compete and to satisfy stakeholders. In addition, results show that GIP is a determinant of CC because of its contribution to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, with GIP performing a mediating role in the relationship between RL and CC. A second contribution shows that IT is not in itself able to yield a competitive advantage, thereby validating the existence of complementary or co-focused strategic assets such as RL and GIP, which enhance IT’s influence on CC.

Research limitations/implications

The authors were unable to explore the subtleties of the processes over time. Future research should include a longitudinal study.

Practical implications

This study considers RL an essential factor in achieving both GIP and CC. Consequently, managers should seek to build strong RL cultures. In addition, this study shows that IT is not in itself able to yield a competitive advantage, thereby validating the existence of complementary or co-focused strategic assets such as RL and GIP.

Originality/value

No study has ever examined these three antecedent variables (IT, RL and GIP) together, with the aim to examine their effects on CC.

Keywords

Citation

Leal-Millán, A., Roldán, J.L., Leal-Rodríguez, A.L. and Ortega-Gutiérrez, J. (2016), "IT and relationship learning in networks as drivers of green innovation and customer capital: evidence from the automobile sector", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 444-464. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-05-2015-0203

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited