Mitigating shirking: Contracting performance in buyer-initiated service triads

Fabian Nullmeier, Finn Wynstra, Wendy van der Valk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

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Buyers that operate in buyer-initiated service triads have to deal with the repercussions of service suppliers failing to satisfy the buyer’s customer. Performance-based contracting (PBC) can be used to shift the risks associated with performance shortfalls to service suppliers. Attaining specified performance outcomes can, however, be highly uncertain in those service triads where there are many factors outside the supplier’s control. In such situations of high outcome uncertainty, suppliers may be induced to shirk their responsibilities. The direct customer–supplier link inherent to triadic structures gives suppliers an opportunity to engage in shirking without being detected. According to established theory, PBC is less effective in such situations, and behaviour-based contracting (BBC) is more effective in achieving performance outcomes that are satisfactory to buyers. However, these insights are based on the long-standing assumption that PBC and BBC are substitutes. This assumption has been criticized as artificial as it is not representative of empirical reality. Therefore, we study whether combining these contracting approaches during the contract design and contract management phases mitigates shirking of responsibility by suppliers. Using a data set derived from a survey questionnaire, we find that combining PBC and BBC during the contract design phase does not reduce shirking. However, the results do reveal that responsibility shirking can be mitigated by combining PBC and BBC during the contract management phase. This study provides purchasing managers with new insights concerning how to use PBC in uncertain contexts such as service triads to achieve performance outcomes that are satisfactory to buyers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Supply Chain Management
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190066727
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Purchasing
  • Buyer-supplier relationships
  • Governance
  • Contracts
  • Service operations
  • Triads


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