Explaining Buyer Opportunism in Business-to-Business Relationships

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The interaction among firms in the supply chain is necessary for business process execution and relationship success. One phenomenon of great significance to buyer-supplier relationships is opportunism. Opportunism is defined as behavior that is self-interest seeking with guile. It is manifested in behaviors such as stealing, cheating, dishonesty, and withholding information. Opportunism negatively impacts relational exchange tenets such as trust, commitment, cooperation, and satisfaction. Furthermore, perceptions of opportunism negatively affect firm performance. In lieu of the known negative effects of opportunistic behavior on buyer-supplier relationships, why do agents continue to engage in opportunistic tactics with their exchange partners? A comprehensive ... continued below

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Hawkins, Timothy Glenn May 2007.

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  • Hawkins, Timothy Glenn

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The interaction among firms in the supply chain is necessary for business process execution and relationship success. One phenomenon of great significance to buyer-supplier relationships is opportunism. Opportunism is defined as behavior that is self-interest seeking with guile. It is manifested in behaviors such as stealing, cheating, dishonesty, and withholding information. Opportunism negatively impacts relational exchange tenets such as trust, commitment, cooperation, and satisfaction. Furthermore, perceptions of opportunism negatively affect firm performance. In lieu of the known negative effects of opportunistic behavior on buyer-supplier relationships, why do agents continue to engage in opportunistic tactics with their exchange partners? A comprehensive examination is necessary in order to understand why sourcing professionals engage in acts of opportunism. Understanding why opportunism occurs will reveal how to deter it, and this remains a gap in the literature. Based on theories in economics, marketing channels, supply chain management, decision science, and psychology, a comprehensive model tested a set of factors hypothesized to drive the use of opportunistic tactics. Factors include buyer-supplier relationship-specific factors, environmental factors, individual personality-related factors, and situational factors. Data was collected via internet survey of sourcing professionals from private industry and government agencies. Common to many studies of ethics, respondents made choices based on two hypothetical vignettes. Two logistic regression models were used to test the hypotheses. Factors found to affect buyer opportunism included buyer power, corporate ethical values, pressure to perform, leadership opportunism, business sector, honesty/integrity, and subjective expected utility. This research contributes to theory by combining several disparate theories to best explain opportunism. A comprehensive evaluation should determine which theory explains the most variance in decision making. The study contributes to practice by identifying those important factors contributing to a sourcing professional's decision to use opportunistic tactics. The ability to manage these factors should improve the probability of relationship success. Additionally, the identification of these factors should help leaders to make more accurate estimates of transaction costs - key knowledge required to make an informed make or buy governance decision.

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UNT Theses and Dissertations

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  • May 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 28, 2007, 9:57 p.m.

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  • June 29, 2009, 10:37 a.m.

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Hawkins, Timothy Glenn. Explaining Buyer Opportunism in Business-to-Business Relationships, dissertation, May 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3664/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .