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Becoming a more attractive supplier by managing references – The case of small and medium-sized enterprises in a digitally enhanced business environment

Abstract : The importance of corporate online references in managing client perceptions and firm attractiveness is increasingly recognized. At the same time, evidence pointing to how references work in business-to-business contexts remains sporadic, with particularly limited information regarding the supplier pre-selection process in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Within the theoretical orbit of attractiveness, the purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of corporate online references, Word-of-Mouth recommendations, and firm size on customer intention to initiate the business relationship with the supplier. The study takes on a mixed methods design combining qualitative interviews and focus groups with an experimental approach; both conducted with managers from SMEs based in the United Kingdom. Results indicate important preferential differences in supplier pre-selection between managers in small versus large customer firms. While generally more elaborated corporate online references tend to be preferred across small and large SMEs, less elaborated references appear sufficient in the case of small SMEs, as long as they occur in combination with a Word-of-Mouth recommendation. Our study makes important contributions to the literature on partnering attractiveness from an SME perspective and adds meaningfully to the discussions on reference management.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 5:26:16 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 1:35:13 AM

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Zsófia Tóth, Marzena Nieroda, Bernadett Koles. Becoming a more attractive supplier by managing references – The case of small and medium-sized enterprises in a digitally enhanced business environment. Industrial Marketing Management, Elsevier, 2020, 84, pp.312-327. ⟨10.1016/j.indmarman.2019.07.010⟩. ⟨hal-02497580⟩

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