We empirically test a theory specifying distinct ideal interaction patterns for four business-to-business service types, which differ with regard to how they are used by the buying company. The ideal interaction patterns are conceptualised as configurations of five different interaction dimensions: the key objectives in the interaction, the critical capabilities on either side of the relationship, the type of functional involvement from the buying firm and the key issues in the buyer–seller dialogue. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data from 23 cases of service exchange at six buying organisations we test whether similarity between the ideal interaction pattern and an actual, observed interaction pattern is a continuous necessary condition for successful ongoing service exchange. The findings suggest for each of the four service types that, in order for a service exchange to be successful, buying companies should design their interactions with their service providers to closely resemble the specified ideal pattern for that specific service type. Besides contributing to the knowledge on how to effectively structure buyer–supplier interactions across the heterogeneous spectrum of services bought, a methodological contribution is made by showing how case research can be used for theory-testing purposes. As this study is the first real test of the typology, further replications with new data, preferably obtained from both sides of the buyer–supplier dyad, are necessary.
|Journal||Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|