The Hollow Corporation Revisited: Can Governance Mechanisms Substitute for Technical Expertise in Managing Buyer-Supplier Relationships?
European Management Review, Forthcoming
50 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 20, 2009
This paper considers how a firm's system of exchange skills including internal technical expertise and supplier governance mechanisms influence supplier performance, both independently and jointly. The core question is whether inter-firm governance mechanisms, including both relational and contractual mechanisms, can substitute for a firm’s internal technical skills in maintaining supplier performance or, alternatively, whether a firm risks hollowing itself out by de-emphasizing internal expertise when it outsources. The arguments build on the capabilities, inter-organizational governance, and supply management literature. We find that internal technical expertise influences multiple dimensions of supplier performance, including cooperation, price, quality, delivery, and communication, while relational governance also affects supplier performance though in a more focused way. In turn, combinations of technical expertise, relational governance, and contractual agreements jointly affect supplier performance. Thus, firms generate superior supplier performance if they retain internal technical skills as well as increase their use of external governance mechanisms to manage buyer-supplier relationships.
Keywords: supply management, purchasing, buyer-supplier relationship, technology management, resource based view
JEL Classification: D23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation