The Effect of Supplier-Customer Relationships on Supplier Innovation : A Qualitative Case Study of a Small Supplier Within the Swedish Tech Industry
Abstract: Customers have lately become of increased importance in supplier innovation processesthrough inter-firm relationships. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to study how suppliercustomer relationships affect supplier innovation. By stemming from three main theoreticalconcepts, supplier-customer relationships, trust and commitment, and supplier innovation, a theoretical framework to base the analysis on was formed. The thesis utilized a qualitative casestudy research approach, where data was collected from a conducted pilot study, semistructured interviews, and secondary data sources. A small supplier within the Swedish techindustry was chosen as the unit of observation, where the supplier and two of their customerswere interviewed regarding innovation processes they had partaken in together. The results ofthe study indicate that communication and trust are important enablers of initiating jointinnovation practices. The supplier perceived the most valuable resource to receive fromcustomers in an innovation context to be knowledge about markets and demand. The resultsindicate that such knowledge could be easier for suppliers to obtain if multiple customers areincluded in innovation processes, and future research should therefore focus on comparing thebenefits and risks of single versus multiple customer involvement in supplier innovation.
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