(Aitken et al., 2016); and difficulty of quality dimension evaluation (Arlbjørn et al., 2011).
These special attributes should be considered when applying product-centric SCM
practices to customer-oriented SSCM.
Supply chain integration (SCI) is regarded as an efficient and effective approach to
improving the performance of supply chains (Huo, 2012). However, there are some
significant gaps in the research on SCI in the service sector. First, this stream of research
is highly limited, with only some conceptual definitions and/or comparisons with SCI in
the manufacturing sector available (Aitken et al., 2016; Boon-itt et al., 2017; Selviaridis and
Norrman, 2014). Second, SCI research tends to overlook the influences of individual
behavior and interpersonal relationships (IPRs). This is a noticeable weakness of the SCI
research, especially in the service setting, as one of the main differences between services
and manufacturing is that services require close person-to-person contact between service
providers and customers. Moreover, a service supply chain (SSC) is a supply chain for
service rather than a supply chain of service (Maull et al., 2012). Human behavior is not
purely rational, as people care about and are influenced by their relationships with others
(Cai et al., 2017; Gligor and Autry, 2012; Schorsch et al., 2017). Third, SCI research tends to
focus on the individual SCI dimensions, rather than addressing all SCI dimensions as a
whole. For example, Uusipaavalniemi and Juga (2008) examined the information
integration level in maintenance services in SSCM by answering questions regarding
which information, which form of information, and how and when information should be
shared between supply partners. Lillrank et al. (2011) explored SSCM processes and
suggested decomposing processes into service events. Boon-itt et al. (2017) developed
and validated measurement scales for SSCM process capability constructs. However,
to achieve superior performance, firms must achieve SCI by synthesizing all three
SCI dimensions: strategic alliances, information integration, and process integration
(Liu et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2016; Zhao et al., 2011).
To address the research gaps identified above, we aim to examine the influence of IPRs
in facilitating the achievement of SCI in all three SCI dimensions, with the service sector as
the research setting. To do so, we address two research questions:
RQ1. What rolesdo the three IPR dimensions of personal affection,personal credibility,and
personal communication play in the service supply ch ain integration (SSCI) process?
RQ2. How do IPRs identified influence SSCI along its three dimensions (i.e. strategic
alliances, information integration, and process integration)?
Research has conceptualized the three IPR dimensions in terms of their influences on inter-
organizational relationships (IORs) (Barnes et al., 2015; Wang et al., 2016). We apply this IPR
conceptualization to examine the mechanisms through which different IPR dimensions
influence SCI in the service sector. We develop several research propositions based on the
empirical findings generated from four case companies in New Zealand’s service sector.
Using resource orchestration theory (ROT) as a theoretical lens, we seek to gain a better
understanding of the roles of IPRs in achieving SSCI. ROT suggests that the firm can
structure and bundle all of the available resources in its disposal to build competitive
capabilities and to leverage those capabilities to achieve superior performance (Sirmon et al.,
2007; Sirmon et al., 2011), instead of focusing on individual resources or simply combining
them (Liu et al., 2016). From an SCM perspective, individual IPR factors can be regarded as
firm resources, as they are valuable, rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable (Barney, 1991).
In the SSCM literature, only limited attention has been paid to the orchestration and synergy
of these resources in SSCI (Liu et al., 2016). Thus, there is a need to empirically examine how
firms can interrelate their IPR resources between suppliers and customers to achieve