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Applying SPAT for understanding B-to-B supplier switching processes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-340
Number of pages20
JournalManaging Service Quality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Purpose — This study focuses on the switching path analysis technique (SPAT) application to enlarge the understanding of customer switching from the business to consumer (B-to-C) context to the processes of business-to-business (B-to-B) supplier switches. Design/methodology/approach — The paper is a theory extension of SPAT, with nine (9) supplier switching cases in different B-to-B settings. The cases shed light also on the actual triggers and determinants of the B-to-B switches. Findings — The study proves the applicability of SPAT in B-to-B settings. The B-to-B context adds complexity, forming a relationship flow where many driving factors act for switching. Thus, the findings suggest that a comprehensive analysis of the triggers and determinants is required to understand the switching processes. In particular, the characteristics of the active/passive behaviour should be analysed separately in the customer and in the old and new suppliers. Research limitations/implications — The empirical findings are exploratory in nature. Further research should refine the characteristics of active and passive behaviour at the levels of the relationship, the companies and the individuals to comprehend the notion of the influential trigger in SPAT. Further research should also address the wider topic of the patterns of certain triggers and determinants that actually lead to unstable supplier relationships. Managerial implications — The B-to-B supplier switches appear to be complex processes. The supplier should be able to be constantly aware of the major changes in the customer’s business. Based on this awareness, the supplier may actively affect the development of the relationship to avoid unwanted switches. Originality/value — The paper combines the relatively mature research stream of B-to-C supplier switches and access to B-to-B supplier-switching cases. The theory contribution of the paper is the extension of the theory to the B-to-B context, with relevant research implications.

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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