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Complaint Management and Suppliers’ Engagement in Long-term Relationships - IntroductionBusiness relationships form the fundamental building blocks of business and economics in the twenty-first century. Many scholars have studied business relationships to determine factors make them more effective and those make them ineffective. Fairness theory – a significant topic in business relationships concept- is closely related to consumer relationship. Researchers have identified the antecedents and consequences of misconduct and complaint management on the final consumers’ behavior such as continuity of the relationship, word of mouth and etc.
This research aims to study the impact of complaint management on suppliers’ attitude in long term in business-to-business context. We focus on behavioral consequence of unequally treating various suppliers in business-to-business settings. Not considering the consequence effects on suppliers, the strategic changes are made by a buyer -to increase the revenue- may have several concurrent and consecutive effects on them. It means some of them will be satisfied and others will be dissatisfied. Suppliers, whom are dissatisfied, will react in one of two following ways: first; they latter may cut off the relationship and seek for new business partners or second; continue to have relationship with the firm, even though they are dissatisfied with consequences, because they have no more choice to replace. Hence, they will presumably change their behavior athwart of their promise to the firm.
The theoretical background for this study is explained in the following.
Homans (1961) defined fairness theory as an attempt to have justice in a business environment which is consists of outcome (due to considered fairness), investments and inputs. One of earliest studies in fairness theory goes to Homans (1961) which believed that customers consider fairness in any types of exchange. So, they definitely assess the amount of perceived fairness in comparison with their contributions in the exchange. As such, Bowen et at. (1999) developed fairness theory in organizational behavior and represented that preserving customers even in a small scale will be resulted in high profitability.
Fairness helps firms to sustain their customers and find satisfactory results. Hocutt et al studied the effects of perceived fairness on complaint management. The results revealed that perceived fairness can have negative effects on complaint management. Tax et al considered the effects of fairness on each of trust and commitment, and found that fairness have a positive effects on both of them.
Some researchers studied the relationship between fairness, satisfaction and loyalty (Clemmer and Schneider, 1996; Holbrook and Kulik, 2001). Others showed that enhancing perception of fairness in a business process will reduces the level of disruption in integration efforts. Moreover, fairness theory has been applied in both positive and negative changes on perceived fairness of outcome.
This study focuses on those suppliers who believe that the firm treats in an equal perceived fairness and those underline the firm treat in an unequal manner. The effects of fairness and its relationship by suppliers as well as its impact on each of trust, commitment and conflict will be considered in the proposed conceptual model.