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  • Virtanen, Henrik (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2015-04-23)
    Att samarbeta med en konkurrent i den internationella verksamheten kan vara ett alternativ för små- och medelstora företag. Parterna stöter på hinder i den internationella verksamheten, vilket ger motiv till samarbete. Det finns olika typer av samarbete mellan konkurrenter. Fokus i denna avhandling är att skilja på vilken eller vilka funktioner i företaget samarbetet omfattar. Parterna kan samarbeta kring gemensamma funktioner (integrerat samarbete) eller kring delade funktioner (sekventiellt samarbete). Förekomsten av olika typer av samarbete, indikerar att man kan anta att samarbetet styrs av den strategiska situation parterna befinner sig i. I samarbetet råder det en spänning mellan samarbete och konkurrens. Man samarbetar för att skapa värde, medan man konkurrerar för att utnyttja värdet. Ett samarbete kan medföra konkurrensfördelar, men samtidigt kan spänningen mellan samarbete och konkurrens skapa problem och risker. Forskningen kring samarbetande konkurrenter har varit mindre omfattande. En kunskapsutveckling är önskvärd. Syftet med denna avhandling är att analysera samarbeten mellan konkurrerande små- och medelstora företag, med avsikten att utveckla den teoretiska och empiriska förståelsen av samarbeten, samt samarbetsmotiven och -förutsättningarna i en internationell kontext. En målsättning är att besvara frågan varför parterna väljer att samarbeta antingen integrerat eller sekventiellt. Ytterligare är målsättningen att klargöra hur parterna hanterar spänningen mellan samarbete och konkurrens, samt utreda vilka problem och risker som finns i samarbetet. Den empiriska delen av avhandlingen utgörs av en kvantitativ kartläggning samt fyra fallstudier. Resultaten visar att indelningen av samarbetstyper inte är helt klar. Man kan identifiera rena integrerade samarbeten, man kan identifiera rena sekventiella samarbeten, samt man kan identifiera hybrider av dessa två, där det finns både integrerade och sekventiella funktioner i samarbetet. En funktion i företagets produktionskedja består av olika aktiviteter som kräver olika insats av resurser och kompetenser. Trots att man samarbetar inom samma funktion (per definition integrerat samarbete), kan man dela aktiviteterna mellan parterna i funktionen (sekventiell logik). Eftersom tanken att dela in samarbeten i två typer är oklar, är det även problematiskt att normativt kunna påvisa klara skillnader mellan dessa vad gäller t.ex. motiv och risker. Varje samarbete är unikt. Ett sätt att mildra spänningen mellan samarbete och konkurrens och riskerna parterna upplever i samarbetet är att separera samarbets- och konkurrensfunktionerna från varandra. I intensiva och betydande samarbeten tenderar parterna, speciellt om det är frågan om små- och medelstora företag, att avveckla den direkta konkurrensen genom att t.ex. specialisera sig på olika kunder och nischer (produkter) eller fokusera på olika marknader. Parterna kan definiera när man har rollen som konkurrent och när som samarbetspartner. Personliga relationer, förtroende, gemensamma normer och förfaringssätt förmildrar spänningen och motverkar parternas intentioner att handla opportunistiskt.
  • Kedzior, Richard (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-09-05)
    Changes in consumption related to digital technologies, digitization and the emergence of new media have been topics of great interest to both academics and managers. The backbone of all these changes, the Internet has penetrated consumers’ daily lives and changed the way they work, shop and socialize. The new digital spaces (e.g., social networking sites, massively multiplayer online games, or online virtual worlds) have become important conduits for sociality and consumption as evidenced by the time and money consumers spend online. Yet, frequently the social, cultural and economic significance of digital worlds has been dismissed due to their “immaterial” character. The evidence discussed in this volume demonstrates that consumers experience digital worlds as material, yet materiality in this instance transcends the conventional notions of tangibility and physicality. Thus, this study introduces the concept of digital materiality to more accurately describe the phenomenon of materiality in digital environments, and focuses on the ways in which it emerges in digital worlds. To this end, presented here conceptual framework maps out five distinct processes through which digital worlds become material to their consumers. Each of these processes is driven by a set of consumer motivations which correspond to consumer perceptions of digital materiality. Apart from the theoretical and conceptual contributions to academic literature, this research offers a number of managerial implications which can benefit professionals working with digital media. The ideas discussed here may be especially valuable for public policy makers and product managers struggling with the inherent instability of digital materiality. Some of the insights can also cast light on ways in which businesses could expand their market offering by complementing existing product lines with either digital or physical components. This interdisciplinary work is positioned within Consumer Culture Theory and Digital Consumption Studies, and draws on the extant literature in consumer research, cultural studies, anthropology, and human-computer interaction. Richard Kedzior is an Assistant Professor of Markets, Innovation and Design at the School of Management, Bucknell University. He is a consumer researcher who studies phenomena at the intersection of technology and culture.
  • Huotari, Kai (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-15)
    In his dissertation, Kai Huotari studied how customer-to-customer (C2C) communication becomes a part of service experience. Using grounded theory, Huotari investigated TV live-tweeting – i.e., people reading and writing Twitter messages about a TV program while viewing it. He interviewed 45 live-tweeters and analyzed more than 4,000 tweets in the U.S. during 2011–12. The study identified four distinct groups of users live-tweeting about TV programs (fanatic TV live-tweeters, systematic TV live-tweeters, sporadic TV live-tweeters, and active Twitter users) and four main categories of TV live-tweets (courtesy tweets, outlet tweets, selection tweets, and analysis tweets); described several TV live-tweeting practices, from preparation practices to reading and writing live-tweets and including certain use of Twitter functions; and revealed that a TV live-tweeter is an empowered TV viewer who can, by experientializing live-tweeting into his or her TV viewing, personalize and control his or her TV viewing experience better than before, can express him- or herself more fully, and can reach a large enough audience and acceptance for his or her ideas. Experientializing is the core concept that emerged from the study. It refers to the consumer integrating two activities with each other in a way that leads to new practices of consumption and to a transformed and empowering experience. The study develops a substantive theory of experientializing live-tweeting into the TV viewing experience. Huotari suggests that the concept can, however, be used also in other contexts and presents two abstractions of the theory: experientializing C2C communication into a consumption experience and experientializing a customer activity into a service experience. The associated tentative models can be used to explain, for example, museum visitors’ willingness to go to museums in groups or how reading on public transportation changes the experience of commuting. The study brings new insight to television studies, especially for the ongoing discussion of the so-called “second screen.” The study repositions the research on C2C communication: it investigates C2C communication as a part of consumption experience instead of considering it only as communication about consumption experience. In addition, the study suggests new ways to categorize C2C communication. For marketing in general, it introduces the concept of experientializing as a customer driven process wherein service providers have only limited visibility. The media industry can take advantage of the empirical part of the study. At the same time, the theoretical contributions of the study have broader applicability and, accordingly, can be made use of in various industries.
  • Liewendahl, Helena (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-07)
    Motivation is a popular notion in today’s worklife. Employees, in particular those who work in traditional customer service, should be motivated to care for their customers. Service literature assumes that managers are able to order subjectivity towards employees and see to it that employees are motivated. This study deviates from this viewpoint by adopting a humanistic and systemic stance. It sees motivation as an intrinsic process, and employees as active subjects in worklife as well as owners of their motivation. It takes an employee perspective as it sets out to explore their motivation to live up to value promises. Value promises is another topical concept. Currently, companies promise all kinds of things that should enhance customers’ value formation. Often these promises deviate from what actually occurs in service encounters, and psychological contracts such as value, brand and service promises are broken. Currently employees do, despite the increase of e-services, have a substantial role in delivering promises. The more complex and abstract the promise is, such as “the best service”, the more is required of employees to live up to it. The more emotion work embedded in the promise, the more important motivation for living up to it becomes. Taking value practices, i.e., service encounters and firm internal practices underpinning these as its locus, this study explored employees’ experiences by identifying issues that employees found having an impact on their work in customer interface, and thus influencing their motivation. A number of demotivating as well as motivating factors were identified: Too abstract marketing ideas and fuzzy promises, as well as a paternalistic and objectifying stance towards employees do impinge motivation negatively. Truthful authentic promises that reflect value practices as they are, and employees having agency to participate not only in delivering, but also in enabling and giving promises, to name a few, were found to have a positive impact on motivation. By noting these factors, this study strives to widen our understanding of the mechanisms that underpin employee motivation in a service context. The thesis suggests a Human Service Logic (HSL) as a new paradigmatic perspective to service research, parallel to the other current prevailing service logics. As central to employee motivation, the HSL emphasises social- and service competences. Drawing upon the three promises framework a promise integration (PI) model is suggested. The PI model introduces a new perspective on the TPF model; reordering, reorienting, and reframing it from promise management, governed mainly by managerial control, norms, and procedure, to a dynamic promise-living perspective, directed by human principles and co-active managing of value practices. The HSL framework, and its PI model, describes an employee discourse on motivation in a service context.
  • Díaz Ruiz, Carlos A (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-05)
    From street activists to corporate managers, a rising debate is questioning whether markets can be reimagined to meet environmental, social and corporate goals. However, one problem to advance the debate is that markets are often evoked but not investigated; in other words, pundits rely on representations of what a market is and how it works often lacking correspondence with actual markets. Subsequently, the dynamics in the correspondence between representation and markets constitute an important and topical gap of knowledge whose investigation can be fruitful to restructure how markets and society interact. At the core of this dissertation is the concept of market representations where complex social reality is simplified into coherent, yet incomplete views of how markets work either now or in the future. Market representations are important because of their capacity to enable and constrain a repertoire of actions for acting in markets. As such, market representations are conceptualized to be “in action” - following the performativity turn in marketing literature – by investigating how the world of ideas has effects in the real world. Therefore, by providing conceptual foundations and empirical evidence, this dissertation demonstrates that representational practices are part and parcel of acting in markets. The dissertation is composed by four essays spanning a wide range of methods: literature review, a qualitative in-depth analysis, quantitative testing and content analysis. Essay one focuses on the assumptions mobilized about markets in literature originating in marketing and economic sociology. Findings reveal that commonly held beliefs about markets- such as competition, profit maximization, the centrality of exchange and the existence of supply and demand - are assumptions that are not featured in every market. Essay two mobilizes in-depth methods to investigate how commercial market researchers put together representations for their clients. The study tracks how market researchers select and privilege representational objects to create unique representations for their clients to act. Essay three presents quantitative evidence suggesting that market representations can constrain and enable a repertoire of managerial actions. In the context of business marketing, the study demonstrates that the form how the market is understood can have an effect on the actions that managers find relevant and appropriate. Essay four investigates how market research reports are assembled. By analyzing how market representations are assembled, the study explains how market researchers move back and forth between a concern to be accurate and a concern to be actionable. Overall, this dissertation contributes to the subfields of market studies and consumer culture theory in marketing by providing the conceptual foundations and empirical evidence for representations. The debate on the interaction of markets and society is enriched by understanding how assumptions about markets correspond to repertoires of actions.
  • Hellman, Pia (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-06-04)
    The starting point of this research was the increasing popularity of companies introducing e-services because of the expected increase in efficiency. However, the introduction of an e-service does not automatically lead to usage. Research shows that even when consumers say that they prefer to have their transactions handled by digital channels, the adoption rate of e-services is lower than what the company has expected. This study set out to investigate if marketing communication through e-mail could increase e-service adoption rates. There is clearly a lack of understanding of what drives consumers to use e-services. Generally, there are monetary benefits for the company when consumers switch to online services. For the consumers, however, the benefits are not necessarily evident. In order to build positive consumer perceptions of the e-service benefits and increase e-service adoption, the firms need to communicate the benefits to consumers. This thesis investigates if communicating e-service benefits to consumers can increase e-service adoption. Based on a conceptual framework of e-service benefits and e-service communication, the effect of communicating e-service benefits through e-mail in a b-to-c environment was measured. Three studies were conducted, of which the main study was a field experiment. An experimental design was applied to new customers of a telecom service provider. Three benefits were measured: time savings, easy to use, and access to information. The adoption was measured as the web traffic, including e-mail click-through-rates and login rates to the e-service. The effect of each e-service benefit used alone, in pairs or in a combination of all three benefits was measured. The effect of repeat actions was also tested. The findings from the experiment revealed that there were differences between the effects of the treatments on different behaviors in the adoption process. However, this research failed to provide strong evidence supporting a positive effect of e-mail communication on e-service adoption. Nevertheless, the results suggest that companies should carefully investigate which benefits consumers are seeking and how to communicate the benefits during the stages of the consumer adoption process. The study shows that consumers’ interest in and perception of e-service benefits can vary during the different stages of the e-service adoption process.
  • Kiehelä, Hanna (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-05-19)
    Consumers’ product assessments are largely based on colour, and a product’s colour can increase consumer satisfaction, awareness and loyalty. However, existing colour research is fragmented and calls for theoretically-enhanced understandings of the role of colour in consumer product perception. The existing colour research mainly focuses on consumers’ immediate reactions when exposed to colours although studies show that consumers evaluate products differently in purchase and in use. Therefore, to fully understand how consumers are affected by colour, it is insufficient to study instant reactions. Existing colour studies often explore colour in general, without a product context, although the influence of colour on consumers needs an interpretative significance. Thus, colour perception cannot be examined independently of the determined object. This thesis analysed how consumers perceive the value of colour in relation to products. This has not been extensively examined before although consumers have been found to relate colour to the perceived value of products. Studying the perceived value of product colour allowed this thesis to widen the time scope from consumers’ immediate reactions to using products in everyday life. Two studies were conducted on how consumers perceived the value of product colour by empirically studying the objects of cars and mobile phones. The first study, based on 39 interviews, resulted in an inductive conceptualisation of how consumers perceived the value of colour in relation to products. This study has several important findings: Consumers perceive the value of product colour on three value dimensions – experiential, symbolic and functional; In each dimension, there is a consumer perceived colour preference scale which consists of desirable, tolerable and unacceptable colours; The colour preference scales of the three value dimensions may sometimes clash when consumers prefer different colours in each value dimension, which leads them to make trade-offs between the dimensions; Additionally, an unacceptable colour in any dimension may lead consumers to decide against making a purchase. The second study – an online study with 655 respondents – corroborated this conceptualisation. This thesis contributes to existing research on perceived value and colour by demonstrating that product colour is an important but neglected aspect of perceived value, by illustrating the dimensionality of the perceived value of product colour and by proposing trade-offs between the value dimensions – a currently understudied area. The recommendation is for companies to acknowledge the dimensionality of the perceived value of product colour. This would enable manufacturers to better evaluate how consumers perceive new product colours, and retailers to provide customers with better service expertise and assistance, thus likely increasing purchase intentions and customer satisfaction.
  • Mickelsson, Jakob (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-04-29)
    Due to changes in technology, customers are increasingly empowered in their interactions with companies. Information is readily available, and customers can choose, learn and contribute in ways previously unimaginable. Even though marketers have acknowledged the importance of understanding the customer as an active participant in service, there have been few efforts to systematically understand and illustrate the customer’s structures of activity. Customer activity has within marketing traditionally been viewed as a response to inputs from the provider. Advertising, for example, is seen as having a persuasive function: It should result in the customer’s activity of buying. Similarly, in service research, the customer’s activities are considered to be either directed by service design or as inputs into an interaction process. This thesis presents an alternative view on customer activity: It is a perspective on service use. In contrast to earlier perspectives, the customer activity perspective incorporates service as an enabling or supporting element in the customer’s activities. The thesis defines ‘customer activity’ as a discrete sequence of behaviour that through its outcomes aims at creating or supporting some type of value in the customer’s life or business. This definition enables new types of analysis. By identifying many separate customer activities, service providers can uncover interlinked systems of activity. Customer activities are connected to each other through, for example, frequency links, functional links, resource links, temporal links, cognitive links or geographical links. The role of service is to enable customer activity and serve as an ingredient in the customer’s interlinked systems of activity. Consequently, the thesis takes a customer-dominant stance on service. Customers are seen as controlling and combining the services of different providers with each other to serve their own ends. Customer activity is presented as a focal concept for understanding this process. Moreover, customer activity is viewed as more than simply interactions with a service provider or inputs into realizing a particular service. Rather, activities are elements that customers use to organize their own lives. The thesis contains empirical examinations of the relationship between customer activity and service. These show that customers maintain different types of activity systems, and that the same service can play different roles in the life of the customer. Service providers can use this information as input for service design, communication and customer segmentation.
  • Nyman, Henrich (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2013-12-18)
    To twist an old saying into ‘service logic’, one could express the ongoing paradigm shift in service marketing as – ‘service is not as usual, anymore’. This thesis argues for adopting service logic on profitability and, thus, for studying ‘service’ (singular) profitability as a divergent concept from ‘services’ (plural) profitability. For the uninitiated into the recent theoretical development within service marketing, the concepts of service and services might at a first glance appear indistinguishable. However, there is more to the concept of service in contrast to services and, hence, to the rationale for conceptualising service profitability as distinct from services profitability, than just omitting the letter -s from the word ‘service’. An increasingly growing body of the service marketing literature challenges the traditional services paradigm, in which services have been characterised as different from goods by four distinguishing ‘IHIP’ characteristics: ‘intangibility’, ‘heterogeneity’, ‘inseparability’ and ‘perishability’. The definitions of the IHIP characteristics are found to be too narrow and outdated as generic service characteristics. What is more, the ‘IHIP’ characteristics are not universally applicable to all services during all stages of the service process and fail to set apart services from goods in general. Most severely, the ‘IHIP’ characteristics are still based on the same goods- or manufacturing-centred logic that they are claimed to differ from. In contrast to services (plural) as a distinct category of market offerings, the contemporary perspectives on service (singular) represent various ways of thinking and, thus, logics or mental models on value creation from the customer’s point of view, founded on ‘value in use’. However, in emphasising value creation from the customers’ perspective, the contemporary perspectives on service pay considerably less attention, if at all, to the financial value of service from the service provider’s perspective and, as a result, to service profitability. Purposely, this thesis adopts a provider perspective on service by conceptualising service as consisting of two distinct processes: the service sales process and the service provision process. Nevertheless, the customer perspective on these processes is imperative for the financial consequences of the service. From the customers’ perspective, the service sales process deals with value propositions, which indicates that service offerings are not the final result of an economic activity but should add value for customers. Moreover, from the customers’ perspective, the service provision process comprises value facilitation, i.e. the facilitation of the customers’ value-creation activities. Consequently, this thesis argues that the concept of service profitability could be characterised as the financial outcome of service sales and service provision, wherein the service provider’s facilitation and support of the customers’ value creation activities is paramount.
  • Holttinen, Heli (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2013-11-11)
    This thesis investigates consumer value creation as an everyday sociocultural and situational phenomenon. The first objective was to understand and conceptualize how cultural ideals and practices inform consumer everyday value creation. I examined empirically how consumers enact cultural ideals in mundane consumption in the empirical context of a weekday dinner practice among Finnish households. The second objective was to contextualize a value proposition concept in customers’ practices. The approach consisted of a theoretical investigation of how consumers experience and evaluate value propositions in their practices in order to draw theoretical implications. Integrating complementing knowledge from S-D logic, Consumer Culture Theory, and Practice Theory provided me insightful theoretical lenses for the examinations. The findings highlight the primacy of cultural ideals and practices in consumer everyday value creation and value co-creation. They inform the consumers regarding which value propositions are desirable and thereby guide resource integration and thus purchasing decisions. This thesis portrays consumers as pragmatic, flexible and fragmented value-creating agents. It demonstrates how the consumers enact and compromise cultural ideals and identity projects in relation to practices. They compromise identity projects and cultural ideals in some practice(s) but not across practices. As the practices serve different ends for the consumers at different times, the meaning of the practices is constantly re-created by consumers. As resource integrators the consumers accept and use value propositions in the practices in their own ways irrespective of firms’ intentions, in order to enact cultural ideals. Value becomes co-created only when the consumers (as customers) can enact cultural ideals by integrating firms’ offerings with their other resources - and as a result experience value. While this thesis illuminates the interplay among cultural ideals, practices, value propositions, and consumer action, it offers a cultural and practice-theoretical conceptualization of how consumers, material objects and a sociocultural environment interact and co-create each other at a certain time in history and in the consumers’ lives. The findings represent the value of an offering as a dynamic, context-dependent, intersubjective and subjective notion that is constantly co-created and re-created by customers. This thesis introduces firms a sociocultural and practice-theoretical approach for the new offering development process. It means perceiving and investigating customers’ lives and value-creating activities as a mosaic of practices in which the customers try to enact cultural ideals by integrating value propositions with their other resources. By contextualizing the value propositions in the customers’ practices, the thesis helps firms to improve the effectiveness of the new offering development process. Effectiveness here refers to the ability of the firms to create offerings that are both culturally and practically desirable for the customers. By addressing the cultural ideals and the practical realities of everyday life, effective offerings make it possible for the customers to enact the cultural ideals in their everyday lives.
  • Arantola-Hattab, Johanna (Hanken School of Economics, 2013-05-23)
    During the past decade value co-creation has been eagerly discussed in service marketing research. Despite the vigorous interest, the discussion has largely stayed on the theoretical level and perhaps led more to confusion than evolution. In business-to-consumer marketing the focus on investigating value has mainly been on the dyad of provider and customer; however the customer has remained an undefined unit in the interactions. This study argues a deeper investigation on co-creation is needed to clarify the value co-creation concept. The purpose of this research is to explore how a family as a customer experiences co-created service value. This study widens the investigation on co-creation beyond the visible interactions between the provider and a single person to cover often for the provider invisible interactions of different family members. The underpinning framework is the Nordic School’s customer-dominant logic (CDL). This study uses qualitative methodology as the approach to study the research topic. The research method applies ethnography to gain knowledge regarding how a specific group of people interacts with the environment. The empirical study consists of interviews and observations of working mothers who interpret their daily lives, responsibilities, and activities. Based on this background, they discuss their experiences and opinions about their banking service. The empirical study illustrates how mothers discuss their individual and family needs with a bank. Thus, this study widens the scope of a single person being a customer and presents the idea of a family as a customer unit. This study contributes to the current theoretical discussion on value co-creation by presenting a categorisation model for investigating different entities of service value co-creation. The model illustrates how experienced service value is a consequence of co-creation covering both visible and invisible interactions of a family. The study illustrates how service value is experienced by a family as a consequence of value co-creation not only in a dyadic interaction between the provider and an individual, but also in the multiple interactions within a family. The managerial contributions give guidance to companies regarding how to extend their understanding of a customer’s experienced service value and how to become better embedded in their customers’ everyday lives. An increased understanding of different entities of co-creation generates new knowledge regarding how companies can sustain valuable relationships with their customers. The findings illustrate it is essential for a bank as a service provider to shift the focus from dyadic interactions to cover also the multiple interactions within a family as a customer unit.
  • Viio, Paul (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2011-11-14)
    Although previous research has recognised adaptation as a central aspect in relationships, the adaptation of the sales process to the buying process has not been studied. Furthermore, the linking of relationship orientation as mindset with adaptation as a strategy and forming the means has not been elaborated upon in previous research. Adaptation in the context of relationships has mostly been studied in relationship marketing. In sales and sales management research, adaptation has been studied with reference to personal selling. This study focuses on adaptation of the sales process to strategically match it to the buyer’s mindset and buying process. The purpose of this study is to develop a framework for strategic adaptation of the seller’s sales process to match the buyer’s buying process in a business-to-business context to make sales processes more relationship oriented. In order to arrive at a holistic view of adaptation of the sales process during relationship initiation, both the seller and buyer are included in an extensive case analysed in the study. However, the selected perspective is primarily that of the seller, and the level focused on is that of the sales process. The epistemological perspective adopted is constructivism. The study is a qualitative one applying a retrospective case study, where the main sources of information are in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants representing the counterparts at the seller and the buyer in the software development and telecommunications industries. The main theoretical contributions of this research involve targeting a new area in the crossroads of relationship marketing, sales and sales management, and buying and purchasing by studying adaptation in a business-to-business context from a new perspective. Primarily, this study contributes to research in sales and sales management with reference to relationship orientation and strategic sales process adaptation. This research fills three research gaps. Firstly, linking the relationship orientation mindset with adaptation as strategy. Secondly, extending adaptation in sales from adaptation in selling to strategic adaptation of the sales process. Thirdly, extending adaptation to include facilitation of adaptation. The approach applied in the study, systematic combining, is characterised by continuously moving back and forth between theory and empirical data. The framework that emerges, in which linking mindset with strategy with mindset and means forms a central aspect, includes three layers: purchasing portfolio, seller-buyer relationship orientation, and strategic sales process adaptation. Linking the three layers enables an analysis of where sales process adaptation can make a contribution. Furthermore, implications for managerial use are demonstrated, for example how sellers can avoid the ‘trap’ of ad-hoc adaptation. This includes involving the company, embracing the buyer’s purchasing portfolio, understanding the current position that the seller has in this portfolio, and possibly educating the buyer about advantages of adopting a relationship-oriented approach.
  • Persson, Andreas (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2011-05-23)
    The increasing focus of relationship marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) studies on issues of customer profitability has led to the emergence of an area of research on profitable customer management. Nevertheless, there is a notable lack of empirical research examining the current practices of firms specifically with regard to the profitable management of customer relationships according to the approaches suggested in theory. This thesis fills this research gap by exploring profitable customer management in the retail banking sector. Several topics are covered, including marketing metrics and accountability; challenges in the implementation of profitable customer management approaches in practice; analytic versus heuristic (‘rule of thumb’) decision making; and the modification of costly customer behavior in order to increase customer profitability, customer lifetime value (CLV), and customer equity, i.e. the financial value of the customer base. The thesis critically reviews the concept of customer equity and proposes a Customer Equity Scorecard, providing a starting point for a constructive dialog between marketing and finance concerning the development of appropriate metrics to measure marketing outcomes. Since customer management and measurement issues go hand in hand, profitable customer management is contingent on both marketing management skills and financial measurement skills. A clear gap between marketing theory and practice regarding profitable customer management is also identified. The findings show that key customer management aspects that have been proposed within the literature on profitable customer management for many years, are not being actively applied by the banks included in the research. Instead, several areas of customer management decision making are found to be influenced by heuristics. This dilemma for marketing accountability is addressed by emphasizing that CLV and customer equity, which are aggregate metrics, only provide certain indications regarding the relative value of customers and the approximate value of the customer base (or groups of customers), respectively. The value created by marketing manifests itself in the effect of marketing actions on customer perceptions, behavior, and ultimately the components of CLV, namely revenues, costs, risk, and retention, as well as additional components of customer equity, such as customer acquisition. The thesis also points out that although costs are a crucial component of CLV, they have largely been neglected in prior CRM research. Cost-cutting has often been viewed negatively in customer-focused marketing literature on service quality and customer profitability, but the case studies in this thesis demonstrate that reduced costs do not necessarily have to lead to lower service quality, customer retention, and customer-related revenues. Consequently, this thesis provides an expanded foundation upon which marketers can stake their claim for accountability. By focusing on the range of drivers and all of the components of CLV and customer equity, marketing has the potential to provide specific evidence concerning how various activities have affected the drivers and components of CLV within different groups of customers, and the implications for customer equity on a customer base level.
  • Gummerus, Johanna (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2011-02-18)
    Customer value has been identified as “the reason” for customers to patronize a firm, and as one of the fundamental blocks that market exchanges build upon. Despite the importance of customer value, it is often poorly defined, or seems to refer to different phenomena. This dissertation contributes to current marketing literature by subjecting the value concept to a critical investigation, and by clarifying its conceptual foundation. Based on the literature review, it is proposed that customer value can be divided into two separate, but interrelated aspects: value creation processes, and value outcome determination. This means that on one hand, it is possible to examine those activities through which value is created, and on the other hand, investigate how customers determine the value outcomes they receive. The results further show that customers may determine value in four different ways: value as a benefit/sacrifice ratio, as experience outcomes, as means-end chains, and value as phenomenological. In value as benefit/sacrifice ratio, customers are expected to calculate the ratio between service benefits (e.g. ease of use) and sacrifices (e.g. price). In value as experience outcomes, customers are suggested to experience multiple value components, such as functional, emotional, or social value. Customer value as means-ends chains in turn models value in terms of the relationships between service characteristics, use value, and desirable ends (e.g. social acceptance). Finally, value as phenomenological proposes that value emerges from lived, holistic experiences. The empirical papers investigate customer value in e-services, including online health care and mobile services, and show how value in e-service stems from the process and content quality, use context, and the service combination that a customer uses. In conclusion, marketers should understand that different value definitions generate different types of understanding of customer value. In addition, it is clear that studying value from several perspectives is useful, as it enables a richer understanding of value for the different actors. Finally, the interconnectedness between value creation and determination is surprisingly little researched, and this dissertation proposes initial steps towards understanding the relationship between the two.
  • Hellén, Katarina (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2010-12-20)
    A Continuation of the Happiness Success Story: Does Happiness Impact Service Quality? The effects of long-term happiness on various outcomes for the individual and society have been studied extensively in psychology but the concept has so far received limited research attention in marketing. Happiness is defined as a summary judgment of one’s life. Previous research has shown that happiness is a relatively stable perception of happiness in one’s life. Thus, happiness in this thesis is long-term and more global as a phenomenon than in the marketing literature, where happiness is commonly conceptualized as an emotion, feeling or momentary state of happiness. Although there is plenty of research on consumer affect and its impact on service responses, there are no studies on the effect of long-term happiness on service evaluation. As empirical evidence suggests that happy people perceive smaller and bigger events in life more positively than less happy people and that happy people are more prone to experience positive feelings and less of negative feelings it was hypothesized that happiness affects service quality directly but also indirectly through mood. Therefore, in this thesis, it was set out to explore if happiness affects customer-perceived service quality. A survey method was adopted to study the relationship between happiness, mood and service quality. Two studies were conducted with a total of 17 investigated services. Out of the 17 different investigated cases, happiness was found to positively affect service quality in only four cases. The results from the two studies also provide weak support for a positive relationship between mood and service quality. Out of the 17 cases, mood was found to positively affect service quality in only three cases and the results provide additional evidence for the stream of literature arguing that affect plays no or only a minimal role in service quality. Based on the collective results in this study, it can be concluded that the evidence for a positive relationship between happiness, mood and service quality is weak. However, in this thesis, it was recognized that the happiness concept is relevant for marketers and serve potential to explain marketing related phenomena. Marketing researchers who are interested in studying happiness are advised to focus research attention on consumer well-being.
  • Helkkula, Anu (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2010-08-09)
    Service researchers and practitioners have repeatedly claimed that customer service experiences are essential to all businesses. Therefore comprehension of how service experience is characterised in research is an essential element for its further development through research. The importance of greater in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of service experience has been acknowledged by several researchers, such as Carú and Cova and Vargo and Lusch. Furthermore, Service-Dominant (S-D) logic has integrated service experience to value by emphasising in its foundational premises that value is phenomenologically (experientially) determined. The present study analyses how the concept of service experience has been characterised in previous research. As such, it puts forward three ways to characterise it in relation to that research: 1) phenomenological service experience relates to the value discussion in S-D logic and interpretative consumer research, 2) process-based service experience relates to understanding service as a process, and 3) outcome-based service experience relates to understanding service experience as one element in models linking a number of variables or attributes to various outcomes. Focusing on the phenomenological service experience, the theoretical purpose of the study is to characterise service experience based on the phenomenological approach. In order to do so, an additional methodological purpose was formulated: to find a suitable methodology for analysing service experience based on the phenomenological approach. The study relates phenomenology to a philosophical Husserlian and social constructionist tradition studying phenomena as they appear in our experience in a social context. The study introduces Event-Based Narrative Inquiry Technique (EBNIT), which combines critical events with narratives and metaphors. EBNIT enabled the analysis of lived and imaginary service experiences as expressed in individual narratives. The study presents findings of eight case studies within service innovation of Web 2.0, mobile service, location aware service and public service in the municipal sector. Customers’ and service managers’ stories about their lived private and working lifeworld were the foundation for their ideal service experiences. In general, the thesis finds that service experiences are (1) subjective, (2) context-specific, (3) cumulative, (4) partially socially constructed, (5) both lived and imaginary, (6) temporally multiple-dimensional, and (7) iteratively related to perceived value. In addition to customer service experience, the thesis brings empirical evidence of managerial service experience of front-line managers experiencing the service they manage and develop in their working lifeworld. The study contributes to S-D logic, service innovation and service marketing and management in general by characterising service experience based on the phenomenological approach and integrating it to the value discussion. Additionally, the study offers a methodological approach for further exploration of service experiences. The study discusses managerial implications in conjunction with the case studies and discusses them in relation to service innovation.
  • Holma, Anne (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2009-10-19)
    ANNE HOLMA ADAPTATION IN TRIADIC BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP SETTINGS – A STUDY IN CORPORATE TRAVEL MANAGEMENT Business-to-business relationships form complicated networks that function in an increasingly dynamic business environment. This study addresses the complexity of business relationships, both when it comes to the core phenomenon under investigation, adaptation, and the structural context of the research, a triadic relationship setting. In business research, adaptation is generally regarded as a dyadic phenomenon, even though it is well recognised that dyads do not exist isolated from the wider network. The triadic approach to business relationships is especially relevant in cases where an intermediary is involved, and where all three actors are directly connected with each other. However, only a few business studies apply the triadic approach. In this study, the three dyadic relationships in triadic relationship settings are investigated in the context of the other two dyads to which each is connected. The focus is on the triads as such, and on the connections between its actors. Theoretically, the study takes its stand in relationship marketing. The study integrates theories and concepts from two approaches, the industrial network approach by the Industrial marketing and purchasing group, and the Service marketing and management approach by the Nordic School. Sociological theories are used to understand the triadic relationship setting. The empirical context of the study is corporate travel management. The study is a retrospective case study, where the data is collected by in-depth interviews with key informants from an industrial enterprise and its travel agency and service supplier partners. The main theoretical contribution of the study concerns opening a new research area in relationship marketing by investigating adaptation in business relationships with a new perspective, and in a new context. This study provides a comprehensive framework to analyse adaptation in triadic business relationship settings. The analysis framework was created with the help of a systematic combining approach, which is based on abductive logic and continuous iteration between the theory and the case study results. The framework describes how adaptations initiate, and how they progress. The framework also takes into account how adaptations spread in triadic relationship settings, i.e. how adaptations attain all three actors of the triad. Furthermore, the framework helps to investigate the outcomes of the adaptations for individual firms, for dyadic relationships, and for the triads. The study also provides concepts and classification that can be used when evaluating adaptation and relationship development in both dyadic and triadic relationships.
  • Höykinpuro, Ritva (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2009-08-18)
    The study concerns service management, and specifically the action service firms take with regard to customer dissatisfaction, customer complaints and complaining customers in high touch services. Customer dissatisfaction, customer complaints and complaining customers are called negative incidents in the study. The study fills a research gap in service management studies by investigating negative incidents as a part of an open service system. In contrast to main stream service management studies defining service quality as how the customer as a consumer defines it, in the present study, the concept of interactive service quality is adopted. The customer is considered as a co-producer of service who thus has a role to play in service quality and productivity. Additionally, the study juxtaposes the often opposed perspectives of the manager and the customer as well as the often forgotten silent voices of service employees and supervisors. The study proposes that the service firm as an entity does not act but it is the actors at the different hierarchical layers who act. Additionally, it is acknowledged in the study that the different actors at the different hierarchical layers have different knowledge of the service system and different objectives for service encounters. Therefore, they interpret the negative incidents from different perspectives and their actions upon negative incidents are subsequently guided by their interpretations. The research question is: how do service firms act upon negative incidents in high touch services? In order to answer to the research question a narrative research approach was chosen. The actors at the different hierarchical layers acted as informants of the study and provided stories about customer dissatisfaction, customer complaining and complaint handling in high touch services. Through storytelling, access to the socially constructed reality of service firms’ action was achieved. Stemming from the literature review, analysis of empirical data and my theoretical thinking, a theory about service firms’ action upon negative incidents in high touch services was developed and the research question was answered. The study contributes to service recovery and complaint management studies as well as to studies on customer orientation and its implementation in service firms. Additionally, the study has a methodological contribution to service management studies since it reflects service firms’ action with narratives from multiple perspectives. The study is positioned in the tradition of the Nordic School of Marketing Thought and presents service firms’ action upon negative incidents in high touch services as a complex human-centered phenomenon in which the actors at the different hierarchical layers have crucial roles to play. Ritva Höykinpuro is associated with CERS, the Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management at Hanken School of Economics.
  • Nenonen, Suvi (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2009-08-18)
    Suvi Nenonen Customer asset management in action: using customer portfolios for allocating resources across business-to-business relationships for improved shareholder value Customers are crucial assets to all firms as customers are the ultimate source of all cash flows. Regardless this financial importance of customer relationships, for decades there has been a lack of suitable frameworks explaining how customer relationships contribute to the firm financial performance and how this contribution can be actively managed. In order to facilitate a better understanding of the customer asset, contemporary marketing has investigated the use of financial theories and asset management practices in the customer relationship context. Building on this, marketing academics have promoted the customer lifetime value concept as a solution for valuating and managing customer relationships for optimal financial outcomes. However, the empirical investigation of customer asset management lags behind the conceptual development steps taken. Additionally, the practitioners have not embraced the use of customer lifetime value in guiding managerial decisions - especially in the business-to-business context. The thesis points out that there are fundamental differences between customer relationships and investment instruments as investment targets, effectively eliminating the possibility to use financial theories in a customer relationships context or to optimize the customer base as a single investment portfolio. As an alternative, the thesis proposes the use of customer portfolio approach for allocating resources across the customer base for improved shareholder value. In the customer portfolio approach, the customer base of a firm is divided into multiple portfolios based on customer relationships’ potential to contribute to the shareholder value creation. After this, customer management concepts are tailored to each customer portfolio, designed to improve the shareholder value in their own respect. Therefore, effective customer asset management with the customer portfolio approach necessitates that firms are able to manage multiple parallel customer management concepts, or business models, simultaneously. The thesis is one of the first empirical studies on customer asset management, bringing empirical evidence from multiple business-to-business case studies on how customer portfolio models can be formed, how customer portfolios can be managed, and how customer asset management has contributed to the firm financial performance.
  • Nenonen, Suvi (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2009-08-18)
    Suvi Nenonen Customer asset management in action: using customer portfolios for allocating resources across business-to-business relationships for improved shareholder value Customers are crucial assets to all firms as customers are the ultimate source of all cash flows. Regardless this financial importance of customer relationships, for decades there has been a lack of suitable frameworks explaining how customer relationships contribute to the firm financial performance and how this contribution can be actively managed. In order to facilitate a better understanding of the customer asset, contemporary marketing has investigated the use of financial theories and asset management practices in the customer relationship context. Building on this, marketing academics have promoted the customer lifetime value concept as a solution for valuating and managing customer relationships for optimal financial outcomes. However, the empirical investigation of customer asset management lags behind the conceptual development steps taken. Additionally, the practitioners have not embraced the use of customer lifetime value in guiding managerial decisions - especially in the business-to-business context. The thesis points out that there are fundamental differences between customer relationships and investment instruments as investment targets, effectively eliminating the possibility to use financial theories in a customer relationships context or to optimize the customer base as a single investment portfolio. As an alternative, the thesis proposes the use of customer portfolio approach for allocating resources across the customer base for improved shareholder value. In the customer portfolio approach, the customer base of a firm is divided into multiple portfolios based on customer relationships’ potential to contribute to the shareholder value creation. After this, customer management concepts are tailored to each customer portfolio, designed to improve the shareholder value in their own respect. Therefore, effective customer asset management with the customer portfolio approach necessitates that firms are able to manage multiple parallel customer management concepts, or business models, simultaneously. The thesis is one of the first empirical studies on customer asset management, bringing empirical evidence from multiple business-to-business case studies on how customer portfolio models can be formed, how customer portfolios can be managed, and how customer asset management has contributed to the firm financial performance.