On-Time Delivery Performance and Supplier Relationship

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Research Methodology

In this section of the report, the methods that were used to conduct this research will be presented.
Tools of the methodologies will be explained to give the reader a good understanding.

Connections Between Research Questions and Methods

Further research is suggested in power asymmetry from a low-power retailer perspective. This study aimed to fill this research gap. It was done by trying to fulfill the purpose which is to get an understanding of how a low-power retailer can incentivize their high-power supplier(s) to improve their supplier on-time delivery performance. To answer the purpose, a qualitative research has been conducted.
To answer both RQ1 and RQ2, interviews, document studies and literature studies have been conducted to collect data. The interviews were done towards the purchasing department and the sourcing department at the case company as they handle supplier relationships and the procurement for the company. The document studies were analyzed to understand the processes and to compare it to the empirical data from the interviews. Literature studies was carried out to find previous research and to gain deeper understanding of the subject and to create a theoretical framework for the report. Figure 3 presents the connections between the research questions and the methods used to conduct answers to them.

Research Philosophy

The study used a subjective perspective which according to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2019) entails nominalist ontology, meaning that social reality comes from the perceptions and consequent actions of people. The interviewees of the study are the social actors. Epistemology focuses on the social actors’ interpretations, opinions and perceptions that bring social realities (Saunders et al. 2019). This study used interpretivist research, which is a subjectivist philosophy. It has the purpose to create new, richer understandings and interpretations (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009). To support this, the study looked at an organization from multiple perspectives by investigating purchasers and sourcing managers which is in line with interpretive research (Saunders et al. 2009).

Work Process

The research took place between January to May in 2019. To try to make it easier for the reader to understand the work process of this study, it has been divided into five parts. Problem formulation, literature study, case study, analysis and report writing. This is shown below in Figure 4.
The first base was to find both a theoretical framework as well as finding a problem formulation by the beginning of March, perform a case study and begin with the analysis at the beginning of April. During the whole time, focus was also set on writing the report. The phase of literature study contributed with deep knowledge for the subject of on-time delivery performance and supplier relationships. This knowledge set a base for the purpose and research questions and also interview questions. To get empirical data, a case study was conducted. An analysis was then executed to understand the results from the literature study and the empirical data and give answers to the research questions.

Research Approach

The aim with the study is to from a low-power retailer’s perspective, get an understanding of how a low-power retailer can incentivize their high-power supplier(s) to improve their perceived supplier on-time delivery performance, which is a qualitatively formed purpose. This means “soft” data was required which is referred to as qualitative oriented research (Patel & Davidson, 2011). To be able to fulfill the purpose, two qualitative research questions were formulated. To be able to answer the questions, a case study was conducted to get empirical data. Data triangulation was used with the interviews and document studies in order to validate the results. What is meant by triangulation is that the researcher validates findings by choosing different kinds of data sources (Patel & Davidson, 2011). Triangulation has not only been applied in the study in form of using both document studies and interviews but also with several employees in the organization who have different perspectives and positions in the company (Patel & Davidson, 2011).
The study was conducted on a single case company and empirical data was collected to formulate theories. This is inductive research (Patel & Davidsson 2011). According to Patel and Davidsson (2011) this approach was suitable as the authors could explore the subject that could be formulated into a theory.

Research Strategy

This study was conducted in the form of a single case study to complement a fixed design to explore the knowledge gap in an already known area for power asymmetry in the retailing business. A case study can according to Yin (2007) be described as an empirical study that investigates something in detail, in its real context in which several data sources are used. As the study seek to get further and deeper understanding of the topic, it then became natural to use the described case study method. The selection of research method is mainly dependent on what type of research questions are formulated (Yin, 2007). As the research questions are asking “how”, it was suitable to use a single case study according to Lundahl and Skärvad (2016).
The single case study was performed on a telecommunication retail company. This was to niche further in the retail business category with a low-power retailer and high-power supplier. There were more companies to choose from. However, the selected telecommunication retailer met all the case company requirements and was therefore chosen. The three requirements that had to be met is illustrated in Table.
This case company was investigated through semi structured interviews to focus groups via purposive sampling. Purposive sampling was used because according to Saunders et al. (2009) it is suitable when working with small samples as in case study and when informative cases are selected. Purchasers were chosen as the main analysis unit along with one sourcing manager and a logistics and process manager. This because they are the ones who work continuously with the suppliers and are expected to have the most knowledge about them and the processes connected to it. In this study, the purchasers can provide large amount of data in a short time and can represent a larger sample population (Williamson, 2002). According to Yin (2007), case studies gives a holistic view to facilitate data collection in a limited given time period.

Literature Study

A literature study was conducted to get better knowledge about the area and to form a theoretical framework, all with the regards of supplier on-time delivery performance and supplier relationships. To get better knowledge and understanding of the subject, a holistic information search was conducted. This to better specify the purpose and what keywords to search for. According to Patel and Davidson (2011) this is a recommended course of action in the literature study. The literature study was performed with the help from the university library in Jönköping which gave access to Scopus which is a recommended database for acquiring relevant literature from scientific journals (Patel & Davidson, 2011). The searches in the database were done with Boolean logic (““, AND, OR, and NOT). This was because Boolean logic helps to narrow down searches significantly to specific search concepts (Oliver, 2012).
When knowledge and understanding of the subject was gathered, the next phase in the literature study was initiated as important keywords for the study were found. In Table 2 down below, it is shown which keywords and keyword combinations that were used, which actual database that was used and how many hits the search words gave with a specific filter. These keywords were used as it was of main interest in this study. Further relevant literature was also found by looking at the sources in studied scientific reports. This was to find more relevant theory quickly. This method of snowballing means that the authors have used previous research as a base, then investigated the references used in those research articles (Atkinson & Flint, 2004). The articles for the theories were in the end chosen based on their relevance to supplier relations and on-time delivery performance. Oliver (2012) states that inclusion criteria for the literature study is needed. The inclusion criteria used was that the literature needed to be peer reviewed, in English and from the 21st century. A few theoretical sources were made with exceptions where the literature was found from looking at the sources from other scientific reports.
To find suitable theories, books and conference papers have been carefully avoided unless needed. The exceptions for these avoided sources was if research from a highly ranked report supported the message purveyed. It was a way to try to keep the quality of the literature sample at a high level.

Data Collection

The data collection of the study consisted of literature studies and empirical data from the case company. Having multiple interviews gave various perspectives and are preferred when collecting qualitative data (Patel & Davidson, 2011).

Interviews

The interviews were used as the main information source for the study. This was because interviews can give detailed answers on uncertainties (Yin, 2007). The interviews were requested by mail. The first interview was conducted with the Logistics and Process Manager at the case company to get an introduction to the case company. This helped to get a base understanding of the company and it was performed in conversational form which is the interview method that is the most open way of interviewing (Patel & Davidson, 2011). The interviews were in total conducted with five different respondents with different positions at the case company. This was to ensure that the answers would come from different perspectives. The respondents were chosen based on their position they had in the company to ensure relevant information would be received. An interview guide was formed to be able to carry out semi-structured interviews with low level of standardization. This was to get the respondents to talk more freely about the topic and thereby get new and deeper insights that could help answer the research questions (Patel & Davidson, 2011). Furthermore, leading questions were avoided in the interviews as this can have a negative impact on the results (Yin, 2007). The questions in the interview guide was not sent to the case company before the interviews. This is because the interviewees can gather together to manipulate the answers if they already know the questions that will be asked (Yin, 2007). The whole purpose with the interviews was to get an insight in how the company and the employees work with suppliers and also how they try to manage and control their suppliers and their on-time delivery performance.
The conducted interviews are presented down below in Table 3. The interview guide is attached in the appendix of the report as Appendix 1.
The interviews were conducted by both the authors and the questions from the interview guide was used along with supplementary questions and clarifying questions that occurred during the interview sessions. The interviews were documented in the form of recording.

Document studies

Documents with data relevant for the study was requested and received from the case company. The documents were needed to see how the company handle and measure their supplier on-time delivery performance. Historical data regarding supplier performance was obtained and gave a better holistic picture of how the case company perceived their supplier on-time delivery performance. The historical data was obtained from the ERP-system CDPPT (Common Demand and Purchase Planning Tool) and from the other ERP-system Oracle 1b. Documents about how the case company sets demands and how they give delivery instructions were also requested and received. This was to get further insight and understanding. This is illustrated in Table 4 down below. To help answer the research questions of the study, the documents were studied together with relevant theories.

Data analysis

Analyses was made continuously throughout the work and this was because it can help to guide how the study should continue. But it can also be discovered during the analysis that something was not yet thought of or the questions are not perceived as planned (Patel & Davidson, 2011). Miles and Huberman (1994) discuss that researchers argue, interpret and understand concepts differently. To minimize this problem, both interviewees were present at the interviews, and an analysis from two perspectives on the answers and concepts was made since it creates the deeper understanding (Miles & Huberman, 1994). During each interview, notes were written down and a short analysis after the interviews were done to create a mutual understanding from the results. These short analyses were done after the interviews as the data and interpretation was still fresh, as this is of importance according to Patel and Davidson (2011). The interviews were later fully transcribed. When analyzing the transcribed interviews, the answers from the respondents were categorized and analyzed to see if the answers matched with the theory. This is according to Yin (2007) called pattern matching and strengthens the results.

Research Quality

Reliability

The goal with reliability is according to Yin (2007) to make sure that if another researcher is conducting the same study, the same results and conclusions should be achieved. The collected data and the procedure of the study has been documented. This has been a way of trying to achieve reliability. An interview guide was used in the interviews which increases the reliability. Furthermore, the interviews were recorded and transcribed. In addition to this, notes were taken during the interviews as well. The document study is presented and described. The same procedure was made with the literature study. A case company requirement was conducted as well (see Table 1) to find a suitable case company. Having such case company criteria aimed to help strengthening the results of this study.

Validity

Patel and Davidson (2011) describes validity by as if the authors actually investigate what they intend to investigate. This was partly ensured by continuous controls throughout the study by seminars and oppositions. Validity is also achieved if the research results really depends on the events that is stated by the researchers (Yin, 2007). This was ensured as pattern matching was used for the analysis of data. As this study was conducted via a single case study, the results will be more focused to the case company. The way the research was conducted using only a single case company shifts into external validity where theory is used in the specific case company (Yin, 2007).
Both primary data collection and secondary data collection was conducted. The primary data was collected in the form of semi-structured interviews, and the secondary data was collected with documents from the case company. Furthermore, triangulation was used which gives the study validity (Yin, 2007). The possibility of unreliable data that comes from someone who has had the possibility to manipulate the data (Yin, 2007). Therefore, this information has been analyzed and triangulated with multiple sources before used. The data from the interviews and document studies were analyzed and to confirm the data results. Theories and references have been carefully studied upon in this report, where the Academic Journal Guide from Chartered Association of Business Schools (2019) has been used to get an indication that the sources have been published in well-known and high ranked journals to keep high validity.

Table of Contents
1 Introduction 
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem Formulation
1.3 Purpose and Research Questions
1.4 Delimitations
1.5 Outline
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Connections Between Research Questions and Theory
2.2 On-Time Delivery Performance and Supplier Relationship.
3 Research Methodology 
3.1 Connections Between Research Questions and Methods
3.2 Research Philosophy
3.3 Work Process
3.4 Research Approach
3.5 Research Strategy
3.6 Literature Study
3.7 Data Collection
3.8 Data analysis
3.9 Research Quality
4 Empirical Findings
4.3 Supplier Relations
5 Analysis 
5.1 Research Question 1 – How does power asymmetry influence supplier on-time delivery performance in a low-power retailer and high-power supplier context?
5.2 Research Question 2 – How can low-power retailers work with high-power suppliers to improve their supplier on-time delivery performance?
6 Discussions and Conclusions 
6.1 Discussion of Results .
6.2 Implications
6.3 Discussion of Limitation
6.4 Conclusions and Recommendations
6.5 Further research
References
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Power Asymmetry’s Influence on Supplier On-Time Delivery Performance

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