Inter-Organizational System Discussion- Within Organization Comparison of Sales and Purchasing Staff

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The main result of this research in terms of inter-organizational systems was that purchasing staff and sales staff had different views about the information system and relationships with suppliers and customers as well as the environment in which they worked. Overall, compared to sales staff, purchasing staff were more satisfied with the information system, perceived the information shared had improved their knowledge, and exchanged more types of information and in a more formalized manner. Sales staff were more loyal to customers and perceived that customers were harder to replace. In evaluating why purchasing and sales staff have these differences in perception, it may be argued that it may have to do with the role of the organization as buyer in dealing with suppliers or as seller in dealing with customers. Purchasing staff as buyers tend to have more say in what goes on as they decide what to buy. Sales staff as sellers tend to have power limited to the control of scarce or nonsubstitutable goods and services. Therefore, purchasing staff have more say in initiating more information exchanges and formalizing information systems to monitor the relationships.

Other studies have found differences between buyers (purchasing staff) and sellers (sales staff). Spekman, Kamauff, and Myhr (1998), in a study of 161 respondents in different functional departments (operations, procurement, materials management, or marketing) and levels (suppliers, focal company, customers) in 22 supply chains, found that buyers were different from sellers. They found that buyers were less likely to view the customer/supplier as irreplaceable and essential to their future business. In addition, they found that buyers tended to be less willing to share information. While the study reported in this chapter did not examine willingness to share information, similar results were found: sales staff (sellers) were more dependent than purchasing staff (buyers).

Forker, Ruch, and Hershauer (1999), in comparisons between 181 pairs of relationships between an electronic systems manufacturer and the suppliers, found significant differences in perceptions for seven out of 16 (quality) management practices. This was notwithstanding long and close business relationships and over 20 years of involvement in supplier development programs. Forker, Ruch, and Hershauer (1999), due to this and the degree of communication, concluded it was unlikely that the perceptual differences were due to a lack of awareness. Rather, they suggested that perceptual differences were due to inconsistent priorities, motives, and methods underlying the administration of the supplier development programs. While the study reported in this chapter did not specifically measure priorities and motives, it is suggested that they could be reflected in perceived relationships and therefore provide some support for the findings presented.

Storer et al. (2002), in a study of dyadic pairs of customers and suppliers in the green-life nursery industry, found that there were significant differences in perceptions between customers and suppliers about the nature of the IOIS, environment, and relationships. To further assess the generalizability of the results presented in this chapter, a comparison of the studies was made between variables that were significantly different in both studies (Table 7). In making the comparison, the green-life customer equates to the food processor purchasing staff, as purchasing staff were interviewed in the green-life customer dyad (plant retailers). Similarly, the green-life supplier equates to the food processor sales staff, as sales staff were interviewed in the green-life suppliers (plant nurseries).

Table 7: Comparison of current and Storer et al. (2002) studies

Similarities in Results

Differences in Results

Customers/purchasing staff > suppliers/sales staff

Type of information exchanged:

Information exchanged whenever necessary:

Quality, delivery timeliness, invoicing accuracy, forecasts

Order completeness, delivery timeliness customers/sales staff < suppliers/purchasing staff

Frequency information exchanged:

Frequency information exchanged:

Quality, delivery timeliness, forecasts, order change, opportunities and threats

Problem resolution, price negotiation, invoice accuracy

Customers/sales staff > suppliers/purchasing staff

Two-directional information exchange:

Order flexibility, invoice accuracy

Communication media richness:

Order completeness



Responsiveness now and change in 5 years

Remain with them Customers/sales staff > suppliers/purchasing staff

Overall, the green-life dyadic pair study provided some support for some of the findings presented here. There were similarities in results about the types of information exchanged, direction of information flow, communication media richness, and relationships, as well as some similarities in terms of the frequency some types of information were exchanged. However, there were dissimilarities about the nature of the environment, the adequacy of information exchanges, and the frequency with which some information types were exchanged.

Specifically, in terms of similarities, both studies found that customers/purchasing staff exchanged information more frequently than suppliers/sales staff about quality, delivery timeliness, invoice accuracy, and forecasts. Customers/purchasing staff exchanged information more frequently about quality, delivery timeliness, forecasts, order changes, and opportunities and threats. Customers/ purchasing staff were more likely to have two-directional information exchange about order flexibility and invoice accuracy. In addition, customers/purchasing staff perceived their suppliers were more responsive now and had become more responsive over the last 5 years.

However, the pattern of customers matching up with purchasing staff was not consistent between all significant variables common to both studies. Compared to customers and sales staff, suppliers and purchasing staff were more likely to perceive that information was exchanged when necessary about order completeness and delivery timeliness. Customers and sales staff exchanged information more frequently about problems, pricing, and invoice accuracy. In addition, customers and sales staff were more likely to agree they would remain with their suppliers/customers.

Before concluding that the differences in the results between the two studies affect the validity of the findings, difficulties in making comparisons between the studies must be noted. There were differences in which variables were significantly different between the groups in each study, so comparisons could not be made for some variables. This may be due to the smaller sample size of the dyadic pairs study, with only 30 supplier and 34 customer responses and fewer significant differences between the customers and suppliers. Alternatively, this may be due to the customers/suppliers study being done in the green-life nursery industry and the sales/purchasing study being done in the food industry. While both industries deal with perishable products, the sizes and scales of the industries were different. The food industry organizations were larger national and multinational companies, with more formalized systems and more specialized staff. The nursery industry organizations were smaller regional and national companies, with less formal systems and fewer staff who were multiskilled. Further studies are needed to see if the results can be replicated.

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Inter-Organizational Information Systems in the Internet Age
Inter-Organizational Information Systems in the Internet Age
ISBN: 1591403189
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 148 © 2008-2017.
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