Exploring intangible drivers that can lead to supplier preferential treatment towards SMEs

Soh, Jun Ghee (2020) Exploring intangible drivers that can lead to supplier preferential treatment towards SMEs. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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This research focus on understanding the intangible drivers that engage suppliers and promote their choice to treat selected SME customers preferentially. Suppliers are often driven to treat key customers preferentially to maximize the financial returns, and SMEs are deemed “less attractive”, hence often neglected. SMEs face stringent business conditions due to their disadvantaged size and limited access to resources.

Although relationship management is fast gaining traction, supplier relationship management is still very much under studied and under practised in businesses when compared to customer relationship management. More importantly in the context of this field study, there have been relatively few insights that sought the opinions of suppliers and understanding the intangible drivers that could lead to supplier preferential treatment for SMEs.

Primary data collection involved 17 respondents from Malaysian food industry with a qualitative research of face-to-face interview. These key members represent companies with capabilities ranging from raw material manufacturing, food manufacturing, distribution, R & D, technical support and services. Portfolio of these companies cover relationships with more than 30 manufacturers, serving more than 80 customers that operate over 1000 food and beverage retail outlets in Malaysia.

Data collected went through two cycles of coding and are presented as organizing themes that contribute towards the research framework. Findings from the field study show that the drivers to supplier preferential treatment are divided into tangible drivers that sparks continuance commitment and intangible drivers that result in affective commitment. The core findings present evidence that Emotional Intelligence, Fairness in relationship and Mutual trust are important intangible factors that are positively correlated and reinforce each other. It is recommended that financially less attractive SMEs focus on these intangible drivers that positively influence supplier affective commitment and supplier preferential treatment.

This empirical research is an important initial step in proposing a framework for supplier preferential treatment for SMEs. The field study sought the opinion of suppliers and offers rare insight to understanding and identifying the intangible drivers that promote supplier preferential treatment towards SMEs.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: intangible drivers, supplier relationship management, SMEs, preferential treatment, emotional intelligence, mutual trust, fairness in relationship
Depositing User: Soh, Jun Ghee
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2020 01:49
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2020 08:01
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/59640

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