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Exploring the concept of asymmetry: A typology for analysing customer-supplier relationships

Abstract : In seeking to understand relationships between smaller suppliers and larger customers, there is a growing interest in examining the characteristics of asymmetry in relationships. However, there is a paucity of research that looks at the consequences of size asymmetry for smaller suppliers. Building on IMP (Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Group) research, this paper presents a typology for analysing the consequences of size asymmetry in customer-supplier relationships from the smaller supplier's perspective. The paper reports on the findings from a study involving a total of 48 interviews and eight in-depth case studies of suppliers in the UK textile industry involved in relationships with larger customers. The findings from the study show that the consequences of size asymmetry may vary widely across different relationship characteristics, with both positive and negative outcomes for suppliers. The implications of these findings are that suppliers may take advantage of the positive and constructive consequences of size asymmetry to capitalise on developing their current relationships with customers. In addition, by focusing on the positive consequences of size asymmetry, suppliers may develop the confidence and assurance to develop constructive and more balanced new customer relationships. The paper concludes by identifying the managerial implications for the development of opportunities and customer relationship options for suppliers in asymmetric relationships and proposes that it is important for suppliers to have an assessment instrument to identify the extent of asymmetry or symmetry across their customer relationships.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 3:23:07 PM
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Rhona Johnsen, David Ford. Exploring the concept of asymmetry: A typology for analysing customer-supplier relationships. Industrial Marketing Management, Elsevier, 2008, 37 (4), pp.471-483. ⟨10.1016/j.indmarman.2007.05.004⟩. ⟨hal-00952813⟩



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