Adoption of internet-enabled supply chain management systems. Differences between buyer and supplier perspectives

Publication Date10 Sep 2018
AuthorXiaodie Pu,Felix T.S. Chan,Zayyad Tsiga,Ben Niu
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information systems,Data management systems,Knowledge management,Knowledge sharing,Management science & operations,Supply chain management,Supply chain information systems,Logistics,Quality management/systems
Adoption of internet-enabled
supply chain management systems
Differences between buyer and
supplier perspectives
Xiaodie Pu and Felix T.S. Chan
Department of Industry Systems Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Zayyad Tsiga
Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham,
Ningbo, China, and
Ben Niu
Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China and
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
Purpose Based on the factors derived from the structural embeddedness theory, the purpose of this paper
is to investigate the antecedents to the adoption intention for eSCM from two perspectives: buyer and
supplier. The six factors examined in this study are product complexity, product specificity, the number of
partners, relationship duration, dependence disadvantage and dependence advantage.
Design/methodology/approach A questionnaire was designed to collect data from Mainland China with
206 valid data received. Regression analysis was employed to test the hypotheses proposed.
Findings The differences in the results show that product specificity and dependence disadvantage are
significant determinants of eSCM adoption for buyersperspective, but not from that of suppliers. In addition,
product complexity and dependence advantage (although negatively associated with eSCM adoption) are
significant for suppliers, but not for buyers. Number of partners and relationship duration are significant
determinants from both perspectives.
Originality/value This research contributes to understanding on how the factors embedded in an
exchange structure influence the adoption of eSCM from the angles of both the buyers and suppliers. We fill
the research gap in the existing literature by recognizing the differences in the roles of the buyer and supplier
regarding the antecedents to eSCM adoption.
Keywords Supply chain management, Buyer-seller relationship, Internet-enabled systems,
Product characteristics, Structural embeddedness
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Inter-organizational systems (IOS), through facilitating information sharing, integrating
business processes and coordinating work flows among supply chain partners, are
suggested to be an essential part for successful supply chain management (Lancioni et al.,
2000; Boyer and Hult, 2005). The recent advance of Extensible Markup Language and web
services technology has introduced more powerful IOS solutions to enhance supply chain
collaboration (Rai et al., 2006; Liu et al., 2010; Venkatesh and Bala, 2012). Among them,
internet-enabled supply chain management systems (eSCM), such as the services provided
by SAP, Oracle and IBM e-business, have been gaining greater traction as the technical
enablers of efficient SCM (Ke et al., 2009). Compared with the traditional forms of IOS, e.g.,
Electronic Information Exchange (EDI), eSCM require lower implementation and
maintenance costs, have decreased technical complexity and can provide improved
information exchange capabilities. Therefore, eSCM are expected to resolve the inherent
Industrial Management & Data
Vol. 118 No. 8, 2018
pp. 1695-1710
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/IMDS-10-2017-0496
Received 23 October 2017
Revised 18 January 2018
Accepted 15 March 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Supply chain
trade-off between costs and efficiency characterizes EDI (Zhu et al., 2006). With eSCM,
supply chain partners can exchange rich content information about inventory, product
design and technical knowledge, integrate business processes, and perform joint planning
and decision making, which can lead to positive synergistic effects in the supply chain
(Gosain et al., 2003; Ke et al., 2009; Chang and Shaw, 2009). Despite the promising prospects
of eSCM, attaining the purported benefits has been challenging (Yao et al., 2007; Cao et al.,
2013). Due to the interdependence and network effects, the benefits of eSCM adoption can be
distributed unevenly because more powerful organizations can exploit more benefits at the
expense of the less powerful partners (Zhu et al., 2006; Zhao et al., 2007). The resulted high
uncertainties make it difficult to predict the outcomes from adoption (Weitzel et al., 2006),
which, consequently, has impeded the broader diffusion of eSCM. The insufficient adoption
of eSCM represents a significant stumbling block for attaining competitive supply chain
network, entailing a better understanding of the determinants of eSCM adoption to provide
implications facilitating adoption among firms (Ke et al., 2009; Liu et al., 2010).
IOS adoption has received considerable attention from the past literature. However,
discrepancy in the perspectives of supplier and buyer are scantly studied. A large number of
studies investigated the phenomenon from either the perspective of buyer (e.g. Chwelos
et al., 2001; Zhang and Dhaliwal, 2009; Zhu et al., 2006), or the perspective of supplier
(e.g. Hart and Saunders, 1998), or treated buyer and supplier positions as a whole (e.g. Chong
et al., 2009; Chan et al., 2012; Zhou et al., 2018). There has been raising awareness in the
research community recognizing the importance of comparing both buyer and supplier
perspectives (Geiger et al., 2012; Nyaga et al., 2010; Kim et al., 2010). It was found that due to
power asymmetry, the determinants of inter-organizational cooperation are different
between buyer and supplier. Switching costs and trust, for instance, were identified to be
significant antecedents to cooperation for buyer, but insignificant for supplier (Kim et al.,
2010). Research also showed that supplier and buyer might benefit differently from
collaboration. Corsten and Kumar (2005) indicated that suppliers perceive a greater sense of
inequity and may feel they deserve more than what they actually receive from a
collaborating relationship. Therefore, the difference between buyer and supplier
perspectives may have profound impact on behavioral intentions (Geiger et al., 2012).
This study aims at expanding previous IOS adoption studies by incorporating both buyer
and supplier perspectives to determine how these two perspectives differ in eSCM adoption.
This study investigates the determinants of eSCM adoption based on the factors derived
from the structural embeddedness theory, which suggests firms are embedded in network of
various relationships (Uzzi, 1997). The configuration of network can have significant
influence on firmsstrategic behaviors. Accordingly, network properties, especially network
tie structure and exchange structure, are suggested to be important determinants shaping
the value created from IOS (Tang et al., 2011), which may, in turn, affect firmsadoption
behaviors. The objective of this paper is hence to examine the influence of network ties and
exchange structure on eSCM adoption intention from buyer and supplier perspectives.
Comparing buyer and supplier perspectives is of both theoretical and practical importance
because it contributes to enhanced understanding of how to promote eSCM adoption in
industrial practitioners based on their major positions in the supply chain.
2. Theoretical background and research hypotheses
2.1 Structural embeddedness theory
Early research has extensively employed the classical diffusion of innovation theory (DOI)
to investigate IOS adoption (Kreuzer et al., 2014; Robey et al., 2008). However, because of
DOIs relatively generic typology of technology properties, in prior studies, IOS seems to
have no distinctive characteristics that are different from other technologies (Robey et al.,
2008). Especially, there lacks an awareness of IOSs peculiarity as networked systems and

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