Explicit and tacit information exchange as a determinant of business relationships

Mathioudakis, Alex M. (2004) Explicit and tacit information exchange as a determinant of business relationships. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, uk.bl.ethos.407675.


Over the last two decades, business relationships have received considerable attention through the recognition that it is possible to increase profitability through relational exchanges (exchanges governed by norms of long-term co-operation, mutual satisfaction, trust and open communication) rather than discrete ones (exchanges that are arms-length, short-term and centred on self-interest). One of the constructs which has received considerable attention within business relationships is trust. Several studies have studied the impact of determinants of trust, with communications acknowledged as one of its main antecedents. However, related research has been found to make no distinction between different types of information (i.e. explicit/formal and tacit/informal). In addition, there are concerns regarding the adopted operationalisations and lack of research that examines the transformation process that information exchange undergoes as part of business relationships. This research attempts to redress such omissions. An approach utilising a modification of Nonaka and Takeuchi's (1995) model of knowledge transfer and conversion forms the starting point of this research. Four nodes representing the conversion of different types of information have been identified. These are: socialisation (tacit information converted to tacit information), externalisation (tacit information converted to explicit information), internalisation (explicit information converted to tacit information) and combination (explicit information converted to explicit information). Supplier perception of their input, their perception of their customer's input, the. difference between supplier's and customer's input, the total volume of their combined inputs and the difference between respective inputs in terms of the total volume have provided the analytical platform. These inputs are posited to determine trust which, in tum, determines long-term orientation. Such research is considered to represent the first documented effort to explicitly examine the differential impact of different types and processes of information exchange. Analysis based on the perceptions of 160 marketing managers of large UK-based organisations revealed that: 1. The respondents' perception of inputs by their customers best explains the behaviour oftrust. 2. With the exception of internalisation (explicit information converted to tacit information), all other nodes were found to significantly affect trust. 3. In addition, the investments made by customers during the conversion of tacit information into explicit information (i.e., externalisation) was found to have a direct impact on long-term orientation. The above results are considered to offer empirical support to the largely descriptive literature on the subject matter. In addition, they illustrate that any related examination should simultaneously consider the nature of information exchange and the processes involved in this exchange. The development of robust measures for socialisation, externalisation, internalisation and combination as a necessary first step and the multiple analytical platforms/perspectives are considered to represent the methodological contributions of this research.

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