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Interdependency in the relationship of project partners: how can it work?

Introduction

Firms build and leverage their competences in order to develop long-term relationships, achieve a better market performance, and thus, a sustainable competitive advantage. While the economics, supply chain management literature have long been investigating the factors influencing supplier selection, besides a heavy focus on pricing, it is not clear why certain companies in the project industry succeed (Cova and Holstius, 1993) and are better at closing a deal with a project buyer, than others. We argue the answer can be found in the perceived competence of actors.

Business-to-business projectscan have tangible (eg. hardware, buildings) and intangible (eg. software, engineering, consulting, production know-how) components. This research aims to investigate the competences the supplier should invest in, in order to influence the buyer's risk and value perception. In particular, this study investigates the following research question: What competences are important from a buyer's versus supplier's perspective?

Literature review

The following literature review reveals the research that has been undertaken in this area by discussing the domain of competences on the buyer's risk and value perception in a project environment.

Competences in Projects

In the areas of management and marketing, the resource-based view of the firm has been used to explain how firms create a sustainable competitive advantage (eg. Barney, 1991) by leveraging their tangible (e.g. hardware, buildings) or intangible (e.g. technology, reputation, alliance, know-how, relationship) assets (e.g. Bharadway, Varadarajan and Fahy, 1993; Sirdeshmukh, Singh and Sabol, 2002; Srivastava, Shervani and Fahey, 1998). Some of these competences draw on the company's past, such as previous project successes of the supplier, references, buyer-supplier relationship, and reputation (epistemic competences) (Veres, Sajtos and Hack-Handa, 2012), whereas others represent a promise for a reliable and successful outcome (heuristic competences) (c.f. Cova and Salle, 2007; Grant, 1995; Lapierre, 2000; Moller, 2006). These competences are also context-dependent on one hand; for instance, a construction company's most important competence lies in the execution of complex tasks, whereas a consulting company's main competence revolves around its employees and their relationships with their clients (Sveiby, 1997), and time-bound on the other hand (Cova, Ghauri and Salle, 2002). Beyond the possession of these competences, Golfetto and Gibbert(2006) emphasize the utilization, promotion and "selling" of these competences in business-to-business contexts (Gibbert, Golfetto and Zerbini, 2006). Therefore, this study aims to explore the relevant competences influencing the buyer's risk and value perception (Nador, 2012; Veres, 2012). It is to mention that the studied phenomenon is culture-specific to some extent as we found it in a comparative research (Sajtos, Veres, Hack-Handa and Greve, 2012).

Perceived Competences and their Impact on Risk and Value Perception

Overall, the success of a project transaction is uncertain until it is completed. Risk is referred to as the subjective assessment of uncertainty and is associated with situations with potential negative consequences (Dhalakia, 2001) in comparison to alternatives (Aqueveque, 2006), and thus, risk serves as an inhibitor to purchase intention (Pavlou, Liang and Xue, 2007). As project buyer lacks the required knowledge to complete the project, the buyer's major risk is related to the supplier's expected performance, which is driven by the presumed weaknesses of the supplier (Veres, 2009). Information on a particular supplier's competence profile reduces the buyers' market uncertainty (in the pre-transaction phase) (Golfetto and Gibbert, 2006), and their transaction uncertainty (in the implementation phase) (Ford, 2002). Therefore, at the outset of the project a large emphasis is placed on the perceived competences and promises of the expected benefits (Page and Siemplenski, 1983; Veres and Sajtos, 2012).

Suppliers might not feel confident--at the start and during the project--in their ability to successfully deliver on what they have promised to the project buyer. However, as the project progresses this risk component reduces and it might be replaced by the risk of the buyer not paying or not accepting the project as delivered. Similarly, the buyer's risk might remain constant due to the uncertainty in the supplier's ability to successfully deliver the outcome of the project. These risks can be managed through targeted acts and communication--especially under the condition of bounded rationality (Singh and Sirdeshmukh, 2000)--that can help the buyer distinguish between 'high' and 'low' quality providers (separating equilibrium) (e.g. Spence, 1974).

Methodology

Qualitative data was collected in two phases. In the first phase we used on-site, expert mini focus group interviews in various contexts, such as market-research, construction, IT consulting and web design, advertising, etc. The objective of these interviews was to explore general views of project buyers and suppliers on project characteristics and stages and their expectations and risk perception throughout the project. A total of 90 buyer- and 90 supplier interviews were undertaken by using a standard interview guide and each focus group consisted of two-three people of decision makers, such as project experts and business marketers.

In the second phase 129 (49 hard-type and 80 soft-type projects) structured in-depth interviews with project managers were undertaken. Construction, manufacturing and property development were categorised as hard-type, whereas IT or other types of consulting, advertising, media and market research were considered as soft-type projects. We asked middle managers of companies who participated in both, the preparatory and implementation phase of the project. The objective of this phase was to identify factors that make projects successful where respondents had to categorise competences according to their importance in terms of their effect impacting risk perception. The interview guideline can be seen in the Appendix.

In the last step of our research project we had taken a larger sample that permitted us to apply multivariate statistical methods. The judgmental sampling procedure was used in our survey to ensure that each of the relevant project types is represented in the sample. As target population, this study considered all Hungarian companies, who mainly undertake projects and targeted the CEO of the company as the primary respondent to the survey. We chose face-to-face interviewing techniques, which resulted in a final sample size of 392. Half of the firms surveyed were typically in a seller/supplier position in their project activities (n=197), the other half of them were buyers/procurers (n=195).

Findings from the Qualitative Phase

According to a project supplier: "we do not sell physical things, but rather a future promise ... therefore, we have to provide some evidence to the client that we are able to implement the project, and hence, the client becomes more efficient or will save some money". This represents a view that suppliers need to demonstrate that they possess the capability to successfully cooperate and finish the project. In order to do that they need to provide manifestations (diagnostic cues) to influence (but not bias) the buyer's decision, and thus manage his future expectations. Diagnostic cues can be the presence of a quality control system (for instance, ISO), references, company size, and in particular, activities that buyers are aware of about the supplier. While in certain contexts (eg. event management) if the stakes are high, the history of the relationship outweighs any other factors; this research aims to focus on projects where client and supplier had no prior history, and hence buyers/suppliers have to rely on information received through various channels. The idea of selling future promises is also closely related to information asymmetry, where the client's subject knowledge usually outweighs that of the supplier; however, suppliers draw on their wide range of experience and system thinking competences. Furthermore, interviews revealed that (perceived) information asymmetry varies across contexts; it is likely to be high in finance and low in the training industry and business tourism.

We found differences in the type of information that buyers and suppliers look for about the other party before they meet the potential buyer or supplier. Suppliers usually look for "official" financial information (profit and loss statement, balance sheet, stock prices, etc.) about buyers, whereas buyers usually consider past project-related information, such as references, recommendation, evidence of expertise or samples of current work. After the initial information search, the first meeting provides an opportunity to have a first impression about the other party. In particular, the supplier aims to uncover the capability of the buyer (commitment), whereas the buyer explores the supplier's expertise and his personality.

Managing the buyer's risk perception is vital throughout the entire project and beyond. High risk perception of projects is also attributed to the interdependency between buyers and sellers, which means "if a project is abandoned then its outcome is destroyed". Most respondents agreed that "the client's risk is larger than the cost of the project as the client's business is at stake". At the start of the project "...it seems like a public relations exercise that we inform the clients about certain risk factors...in the name of self-defence.", which also reassures clients not to follow unrealistic objectives. The interviews revealed that solely communicating the risk factors will increase the level of perceived risk; thus, risks always have to be presented with the solution in order to decrease the buyer's risk perception. According to a project supplier "...buyers do not want standardized answers...but they expect us to find a solution for them. therefore, suppliers, instead of developing highly standardized offers, they need to have the ability to divide complex problems into smaller (modular) tasks in order to reduce the buyer's risk perception". Suppliers, who provide a range of solutions rather than a standardized one, and further, who (communicate that they) understand the challenges of coordinating across various departments (within the company) are more likely to develop positive attitudes (i.e. trust) in the project buyer. During the project, companies consciously aim at reducing risk through standard procedures, such as, continuous project monitoring, milestone meetings (regular visits) and plan updates. Buyers revealed that the frequency of visits and the introduction of support contracts are very effective tools in reassuring the buyer about the supplier's intention; hence they are assumed to reduce risk and increase his trust. However, at the same time these processes make the buyers more knowledgeable and involved in the project, which on the other hand, increases his/her risk perception.

With regard to the role of competences (second phase of qualitative research), both, buyers and sellers collectively agreed on communication skills, expertise, and credibility to be the most important competences, whereas the very same competences were not mentioned in the 'least important' category (see Table 1). Besides similarities, the main difference is that while suppliers are concerned about buyer's financial stability, their ability to explicitly articulate their needs and their problem-solving skill, buyers emphasized suppliers' expertise, licences, professional staff and amount of experience. Our qualitative interviews further revealed that suppliers, who show leadership and proactive behaviour, are valued by project buyers. The factors listed previously should be clearly distinguished from other tangible evidences (eg. ISO, references), as the former ones are more likely to increase perceived trust and or image, whereas the latter ones are more likely to reduce risk in the project buyer, but not necessarily influence customer value. Finally, risks always have to be communicated with a solution to project buyers in order to decrease their risk perception.

Quantitative analyses

Quantitative findings from data of the qualitative phase

After the qualitative phase of our research some quantitative analyses were carried out using the same 129 structured in-depth interviews. We started our analysis by presenting descriptive findings on the evaluations of the capabilities of an imaginary project partner. The respondents were asked to put cards with a capability into one of three piles. They could put a card (a capability) into the pile of outstanding important factors, of average importance factors, or into that of least important factors.

Three different types of capabilities can be identified according to the answers of the respondents (as seen in Table 2). The first group of capability includes the most important factors, namely "expertise (know-how)", "communication" and "trustworthiness". At least two-thirds of the respondents valuated these capabilities as factors of outstanding importance, while only 2 to 5 percent of them considered that these were factors of smaller significance. In the opposite group there are the least important factors, namely the own network, the instruments, devices used and the (foreign) language communication. Less than 20 percent of the respondents classified these capabilities as factors of outstanding importance, while more than 40 percent of them chose these cards to the group C, i.e. to the factors of smaller significance.

We identified another type of capabilities as well. These factors' common characteristic is that almost as many respondents found them very important as less significant. There are only two capabilities in this group: the corporate reputation and the delegation of responsibility and competence. We called these capabilities divisive. The other factors are not in our focus point in this section.

After we had identified these groups of factors, we studied first the bivariate relationships between the evaluations of the factors and the position in the partner relation by analyzing contingency tables. We signed the statistically significant differences with the grey colour of the cells. We used adjusted standardized residuals to test the significance of the relationships by cells. The results are shown in Table 3. The following conclusion can be drawn from the data: the buyers think more important the trustworthiness, the expertise and the instruments, devices used than the suppliers. We can see another interesting result: there are only significant differences between the opinions of suppliers and buyers in the evaluations of most important and the least important factors.

Findings from the quantitative research module

We asked respondents to evaluate the importance of 40 competence-based features of firms involved in a project cooperation. In the questionnaire a7-point scale was applied, where 1 meant "not at all", 7 meant "highly determining". Keeping deadlines, informing a partner of a change in deadline and keeping an oral agreement were the features that best determined of a good project partner according to the respondents' evaluation. The mean value given by the respondents was more than 6 point in our 7-point scale in these attributes. The foreign nationality of a partner was considered to be the least important feature.

We conducted a factor analysis (with maximum likelihood method and varimax rotation) to reveal any patterns among the competences both in supplier companies and buyer companies. We identified four factors (see Table 4). The emerging factors explain 41% of the total variance. The KMO value is 0.77, Bartlett's test came out as significant, which indicates that our variables were suitable for a factor analysis. The results are based on only 14 questions because the other items were eliminated due to a lack of communalities, or difficulty in the interpretation of factors. The factor analysis produced the following factors that characterize the importance of special features of project cooperation:

After finishing factor analysis on the total sample of Hungarian project participants we analyzed the subsamples of suppliers and buyers separately. The basis and the reason of these separate factor analyses was that we had found evidences of a link between the buyer/supplier position and the evaluation of a project partner's expected competences in the previous stages of our research project. From the beginning of this research project we had a general assumption about the influence of the position of the participants (buyer or supplier) on the expectations of the partner's competences in a project cooperation, but we did not want to make special statements about the matter or the direction of this influence and henceforth about the differences between the expected competences of the two sides without empirical data. We followed this direction in this phase of our research, too, and we could get evidence about the assumed correlation, although we need further research to help us understanding and interpreting the quantitative findings.

Although we could identify four factors from the factor analysis on the total sample, using the same procedure for suppliers and buyers separately we could identify only three factors for both groups. Result of our survey suggests that there are differences related to the expected project competences between buyer and supplier companies. Another important finding of our research is that the same or similar factor that we can label with the same expression (i.e. correctness) can have more or less different meaning in different participants of project cooperation.

For supplier companies the factor analysis produced the following factors that characterize the importance of special features of project cooperation:
Table 5: Factor Structure of Competences
(Supplier Companies' Expectations)

Items                       Factor       Factor label
                            loading   (expl. variance %)

react quickly to emerging    0,67
issues

can clearly formulate the    0,63     Correctness (16.9%)
business problem
(pre-contract phase)

discuss problems/risks       0,53
with us honestly

notify us of changes on      0,51
time (eg. delays)

have both theoretical        0,66
knowledge and business
experience

find the right solution      0,61          Expertise
when it is needed

tasks and                    0,51           (13.5%)
responsibilities are well
defined in their project
teams

have good reputation in      0,66          Verified
the business community                    competence

quality assured (eg. ISO)    0,63            (11%)

(KMO = .74; total variance explained = 41%)


It has to be mentioned that the third factor above was selected by the analysis due to the correlation of its items and not because of their outstanding importance. In fact these items belong to the less important ones of an average of 4,7/7 and 4,0/7, respectively. The item "have good reputation in the business community" takes the 34th place while "quality assured" the 39th in the importance ranking of the 40 items.

For buyer companies the factor analysis produced three factors--correctness, financial reliability and keeping contract--that characterize the importance of special features of project cooperation (see Table 6).

Conclusions and Further Research

On interdependencies

To present the explored interdependencies let us start from equally important features on both sides. Equal importance can be found by independent samples t-test for equality of means. Results are presented in Table 7. The items show those capabilities where opinions of both sides can be considered as equal on a significance level of 0.05, while between the items marked with grey shading there is basically no difference at all. Items selected by factor analyses have been marked by *.

The results of our qualitative research and quantitative analyses revealed that there are areas that both buyers and suppliers pay attention to, which not only means that these are the relevant areas, but also that these are considered as risk factors by managers. Therefore, as a next step of our study we aim to test the impact of the presence or absence of the most important competences--mentioned by buyers and sellers--on risk and value perception. The benefit of this is--besides confirming the differential (positive) effect of the presence of various competences,--to demonstrate the negative, damaging impact of the absence of a particular competence on how a buyer sees a potential supplier & vice versa.

In summary, findings from the qualitative interviews helped us understand the pattern of competences and activities that most likely to have an impact on risk and/or value perception of the buyer. This research aims to learn about how suppliers are perceived through their positive and negative activities by their potential buyers and how these activities impact buyer's risk and value perception before selecting a potential project partner. Similarly, suppliers will also be able to understand the impact of certain negative and positive information about the company, and further, how negative information can be counteracted or overcome. Finally, the quantitative research could also uncover the activities of which impact is resistant to contradiction. This is not only relevant from a managerial perspective (Veres, 2009), but it also represents a very fruitful domain for cross-disciplinary research.

Appendix

Expert interview guideline

Research aim:

To explore the organizational capabilities of the actors in project transactions

Operationalization:

Project transaction = to realize a unique task as a business service

Research target groups:

Specialists of companies/institutions, who are making decisions in the preparation and the execution of project transactions (Make an effort to ask suppliers and buyers collaborating in the same project)

The business areas, involved in the research:

a/ (hard) projects, realized with a considerable physical content--construction industry, infrastructure development etc.

b/ (soft) projects, realized with a limited or negligible physical content--ad hoc market research, consulting projects, (ad) campaign organization, the setup of IT software systems etc.

Respondents' profile:

Identical number of sellers and buyers in a position of (possibly) middle managers with a higher qualification.

It is necessary to record the following data without the firm's name: respondent's gender; estimated age group and professional profile; firm's scope of activity; and its estimated size (for example: employees' number).

Interview:

First part (20 minutes):

* What are your expectations in connection with the prospective partner at the time of preparation of a project transaction? From among these, which ones insure the successful outcome of the project?

* From what can you judge, that the partner will meet these requirements? What kind of information do you check on? What is that, in which you rely on the partner?

* In what way do you manage to get information from the partner's real capabilities?

* If you should make a choice, in judging the partner's suitability on only three factors, then which three would you select?

* Which three features would you be cautious with? From what can you judge them?

Instruction: When moderating the interviews, make an effort to achieve that the respondents support their statements with particular project episodes.

Second part (20 minutes):

1. Tell me, please, the procession of the latest important project, in which you took part personally.

Instruction: The interviewer has to observe what kind of episodes the respondent mentions. Ask the respondents to characterize the pre-story of the partnership (its length in time, the frequency of transactions...) briefly!

2. Tell me, please, a case that remained so in your memory, that it had confirmed you on the later success of the project.

3. Tell me, please, a case that remained so in your memory, that had made youuncertain regarding the later successfulness of the project.

Third part (20 minutes):

(Hand over the cards to the respondent!)

Please, classify these capabilities (on the cards) of an imaginary project partner into the following three groups:

A/ factors of outstanding importance

B/ factors of average importance

C/ factors of smaller significance

Instruction: We solve the classification by making piles. Respondent may assign at most 10 into a group! Before making groups, ask him to interpret the factors in a few words. To the "other:" card, he may write a factor about which he thinks it was missing from the list. The factors mentioned in a spontaneous manner in the first part can be a basis to this.

CARDS: communication; innovational capability; relationship management; project management skills; trustworthiness; HR profile; conflict solving capability; competence to act (for example: permission); material inputs used; financial resources; (foreign)language communication; expertise (know-how); financial reliability; delegation of responsibility and competence; recognition of the limits of own competence; own network; extension of own competence; ethical behavior; corporate reputation; instruments, devices used; other

Acknowledgement

The research is supported by National Fund for Scientific Research (No. OTKA 81565 K) of Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

References

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ZoltanVeres

Budapest Business School, Budapest, Hungary

Jozsef Hack-Handa

Budapest Business School, Budapest, Hungary
Table 1: Categorisation of Perceived Competences from Most to
Least Important

                                   An Overlook

                                   Perceived by Buyers

                                     Most      Neither     Least
                                   important             important

Credibility                           74 *       21          0
Expertise                             74         21          0
Quality of staff                      67         21          7
Comm. skills                          65         30          0
Project management skills             60         26          7
Ethical behaviour                     54         35          7
Innovation capability                 53         19         19
Licences                              47         28         12
Conflict management skills            46         42          7
Financial stability/reliability       44         32         16
Financial assets                      39         33         19
Corporate reputation                  32         46         18
Relationship man.                     30         42         21
Materials used                        26         35         26
Recognising own constraints           23         49         19
Foreign language skills               18         28         46
Responsibility delegation             16         44         33
Instruments used                      14         42         30
The supplier's network                 9         40         42

                                   An Overlook

                                   Perceived by suppliers

                                     Most      Neither     Least
                                   important             important

Credibility                           57         34          5
Expertise                             64         25          7
Quality of staff                      55         30         11
Comm. skills                          66         27          4
Project management skills             54         36          5
Ethical behaviour                     50         43          4
Innovation capability                 34         34         27
Licences                              52         21         14
Conflict management skills            46         41          7
Financial stability/reliability       79         13          5
Financial assets                      57         30          2
Corporate reputation                  18         38         36
Relationship man.                     36         50         11
Materials used                        23         23         48
Recognising own constraints           36         46         13
Foreign language skills               14         36         43
Responsibility delegation             20         43         29
Instruments used                      20         25         50
The supplier's network                13         23         55

* numbers represent percentages based on a sample size of
n = 57 (buyers) n = 56 (suppliers)

Table 2: Classification of Capabilities by the Distributions
of Respondents'

Evaluations

Groups of factors             Capabilities

the most important factors    --expertise (know-how)
                              --communication
                              --trustworthiness
the least important factors   --own network
                              --instruments, devices used
                              --(foreign) language communication
the divisive factors          --corporate reputation
                              --delegation of responsibility and
                              competence

Table 3: The Relationship of the Position in the Partner-relation
(Buyer or Supplier) to the Evaluation of the Most Important, the
Least Important and the Divisive Capabilities of Project-partners
(in percentage)

factors           position       A-            B-            C-
(capabilities)     in the    a factor of   a factor of   a factor of
                  partner-   outstanding     average       smaller
                  relation   importance    importance       sign.

the most important factors

trustworthiness   supplier       57%           33%           6%
                   buyer         74%           21%           0%

communication     supplier       70%           24%           3%
                   buyer         67%           29%           0%

expertise         supplier       60%           25%           10%
(know-how)         buyer         77%           18%           0%

the least important factors

own network       supplier       11%           27%           52%
                   buyer         9%            38%           42%

(foreign)         supplier       16%           33%           44%
language           buyer         18%           26%           47%
communication

instruments,      supplier       19%           24%           51%
devices used       buyer         14%           39%           33%

the divisive factors


corporate         supplier       19%           38%           35%
reputation         buyer         27%           45%           21%

delegation of     supplier       24%           40%           29%
responsibility     buyer         18%           44%           29%
and competence

factors           position    not    Total
(capabilities)     in the    class     %
                  partner-
                  relation

the most important factors

trustworthiness   supplier    3%      100
                   buyer      5%      100

communication     supplier    3%      100
                   buyer      5%      100

expertise         supplier    5%      100
(know-how)         buyer      5%      100

the least important factors

own network       supplier    10%     100
                   buyer      11%     100

(foreign)         supplier    6%      100
language           buyer      9%      100
communication

instruments,      supplier    6%      100
devices used       buyer      14%     100

the divisive factors

corporate         supplier    8%      100
reputation         buyer      6%      100

delegation of     supplier    8%      100
responsibility     buyer      9%      100
and competence

The results of these cross-tabulation analyses are affirmed
by Kruskal-Wallis tests.

Table 4: Factor structure of competences

Items                       Factor         Factor label
                            loading           (expl.
                                            variance %)

discuss problems/risks       0.70
with us honestly

make the                     0.58           Correctness
limitations/boundaries of    0.49             (13.3%)
their competencies clear
to us open to clarify
problems

react quickly to emerging    0.49
issues

adapt quickly to new         0.46
business partners

apply the most up-to-date    0.67            Verified
methods

quality assured (eg. ISO)    0.64           competence

have both theoretical        0.44             (9.8%)
knowledge and business
experience

good at nurturing our                 Personal contact (9.1%)
business relationship
even if we do

not have a joint project     0.72

have a great personal        0.54
relationship with them

their credibility is         0.45
supported by their
personal connections

do not have outstanding      0.65            Financial
debts                                    reliability (7.5%)

meet their financial         0.60
obligations according to
the contract

(KMO = .77; total variance explained = 41%)

Table 6: Factor Structure of Competences
(Buyer Companies' Expectations)

Items                       Factor           Factor label
                            loading       (expl. variance %)

when they have got           0.67         Correctness (15.2%)
insufficient expertise
they reach out for
external help

tasks and                    0.62
responsibilities are well
defined in their project
teams

do not take advantage of     0.58
our lack of expertise

have sufficient financial    0.62     Financial reliability (11%)
background to finance the
project

meet their financial         0.54
obligations according to
the contract

do not have outstanding      0.54
debts

do not ask for things        0.70       Keeping contract (9.2%)
that are not specifically
included in the contract

do not change the            0.50
conditions during the
course of the project

(KMO = .71; total variance explained = 41%)

Table 7: Independent Samples Test

                                  belong to    belong
                                  supplier    to buyer
                                   factors    factors

make the limitations/boundaries
  of their competences clear
adapt quickly to new business
  partners
sufficient empathy towards us
react quickly to                      *
  emerging issues
tasks and responsibilities are        *          *
  well defined in their teams
having insufficient expertise                    *
  they reach out for ext. help
notify us of changes on time          *
  (eg. delays)
their credibility is supported
  by their personal connections
do not take advantage of our                     *
  lack of expertise
do not have outstanding debts                    *
good at selecting project
  participants
do not ask for things that are                   *
  not included in the contract
willing to come to a consensus
open to clarify problems
their project leaders are
  authorized to make decisions
  on upcoming problems
good at nurturing our business
  relationship even if we do
  not have a joint project
discuss problems/risks with           *
  us honestly
keep to their word
meet their financial                             *
  obligations according to
  the contract
can clearly formulate the             *
  business problem
do not change the conditions                     *
  during the project

                                   Levene's Test    Sign.
                                  for Equality of
                                   Variances (F)

make the limitations/boundaries        0,00         0,95
  of their competences clear
adapt quickly to new business          0,46         0,50
  partners
sufficient empathy towards us          0,62         0,43
react quickly to                       0,85         0,36
  emerging issues
tasks and responsibilities are         0,16         0,69
  well defined in their teams
having insufficient expertise          0,01         0,94
  they reach out for ext. help
notify us of changes on time           3,94         0,05
  (eg. delays)
their credibility is supported         4,98         0,03
  by their personal connections
do not take advantage of our           1,15         0,28
  lack of expertise
do not have outstanding debts          0,04         0,85
good at selecting project              2,38         0,12
  participants
do not ask for things that are         1,70         0,19
  not included in the contract
willing to come to a consensus         2,60         0,11
open to clarify problems               0,04         0,84
their project leaders are              2,16         0,14
  authorized to make decisions
  on upcoming problems
good at nurturing our business         0,21         0,64
  relationship even if we do
  not have a joint project
discuss problems/risks with            2,63         0,11
  us honestly
keep to their word                     0,00         0,96
meet their financial                   8,32         0,00
  obligations according to
  the contract
can clearly formulate the              0,08         0,77
  business problem
do not change the conditions           8,11         0,00
  during the project

                                  t-test for      df
                                  Equality of
                                     Means

make the limitations/boundaries     -0,06       390,00
  of their competences clear
adapt quickly to new business        0,07       386,16
  partners
sufficient empathy towards us       -0,26       389,00
react quickly to                    -0,40       387,00
  emerging issues
tasks and responsibilities are       0,56       388,00
  well defined in their teams
having insufficient expertise       -0,63       386,00
  they reach out for ext. help
notify us of changes on time        -0,79       371,53
  (eg. delays)
their credibility is supported      -1,03       380,66
  by their personal connections
do not take advantage of our        -1,05       385,00
  lack of expertise
do not have outstanding debts        1,15       384,00
good at selecting project           -1,18       390,00
  participants
do not ask for things that are       1,20       388,00
  not included in the contract
willing to come to a consensus      -1,25       388,00
open to clarify problems             1,35       390,00
their project leaders are            1,39       386,00
  authorized to make decisions
  on upcoming problems
good at nurturing our business       1,42       388,00
  relationship even if we do
  not have a joint project
discuss problems/risks with         -1,49       390,00
  us honestly
keep to their word                  -1,60       389,00
meet their financial                 1,72       367,16
  obligations according to
  the contract
can clearly formulate the            1,87       387,00
  business problem
do not change the conditions        -1,88       380,02
  during the project

                                  Sig. (2-   Mean
                                  tailed)    Diff.

make the limitations/boundaries     0,95     -0,01
  of their competences clear
adapt quickly to new business       0,94      0,01
  partners
sufficient empathy towards us       0,79     -0,04
react quickly to                    0,69     -0,04
  emerging issues
tasks and responsibilities are      0,58      0,08
  well defined in their teams
having insufficient expertise       0,53     -0,09
  they reach out for ext. help
notify us of changes on time        0,43     -0,09
  (eg. delays)
their credibility is supported      0,30     -0,16
  by their personal connections
do not take advantage of our        0,29     -0,17
  lack of expertise
do not have outstanding debts       0,25      0,21
good at selecting project           0,24     -0,15
  participants
do not ask for things that are      0,23      0,18
  not included in the contract
willing to come to a consensus      0,21     -0,14
open to clarify problems            0,18      0,15
their project leaders are           0,17      0,18
  authorized to make decisions
  on upcoming problems
good at nurturing our business      0,16      0,24
  relationship even if we do
  not have a joint project
discuss problems/risks with         0,14     -0,19
  us honestly
keep to their word                  0,11     -0,17
meet their financial                0,09      0,25
  obligations according to
  the contract
can clearly formulate the           0,06      0,24
  business problem
do not change the conditions        0,06     -0,24
  during the project
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Author:Veres, Zoltan; Hack-Handa, Jozsef
Publication:Asian Journal of Business Research
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:6169
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