In this paper, we use an interactionist perspective to study inter-industry variation in buying behavior. We argue that individual purchasers’ preferences for suppliers depend on three broad classes of variables: (1) The structure of the value chain stage in which the firm competes, (2) the firm’s competitive strategy and (3) individual level work experience from the fisheries and other sectors. Structure is related to preferences because a highly transparent market with many homogeneous suppliers forces buyers to emphasize prize over other supplier selection criteria. Competitive strategy is believed to exert influence on preferences because strategy defines areas in which the firm has to outperform its competitors. As competitive advantage partly stems from an adaptation of suppliers, strategically important areas translate into criteria for supplier selection. A purchaser’s experience from work within or outside this sector is partly stored as cognitive structures that are used for making decisions and interpretation of information in complex and ambiguous environments. Present use of criteria for selecting suppliers, thus, partly reflects such experiences, in particular what has led to goal achievement in the past. A set of supplier selection criteria was identified based on a literature review and a qualitative prestudy. A set of theory-driven hypotheses are tested using data from a sample of respondents from UK, Spain and France (n = 99). Data were obtained from both traditional coast based importers-wholesalers and regionally based wholesalers. A conjoint approach was used in order to measure relative importance of supplier selection criteria at the individual purchaser level. Substantial support was found for a relationship between the three sets of variables and perceived relative importance of supplier selection criteria.
Lines, R. Determinants of Preferences for Suppliers in an Industrial Value System: An Interactionist Perspective. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults:Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute ofFisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA.Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. InternationalInstitute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.