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Who’s to blame or praise?: performance attribution challenges in outsourced service provision in supply chains

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/08/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Supply Chain Management: An International Journal
Issue number5
Volume21
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)513-533
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract


Purpose
The aim of this paper is to understand the antecedents and effects of performance attribution challenges arising in the provision of business-to-business (B2B) services in supply chains.

Design/methodology/approach
The study draws on three in-depth case studies of logistics service providers (LSPs) offering supply chain solutions to their clients in Sweden. The analysis of performance attribution challenges and their antecedents and effects is based on 38 semi-structured interviews and review of 43 documents, including contracts and performance monitoring records.

Findings
Three key antecedents of performance attribution challenges are stressed. Two of these, the inseparability and contestability of service inputs, are closely related to the notion of service co-production. The third antecedent is the limited provider capability in performance data collection and analysis. Performance attribution challenges may result in provider aversion to performance-related risk and have a harmful effect on client relationships, for example, in terms of provider perceptions of opportunism and unfair allocation of gains. These effects can be mitigated through contracting, interventions in performance measurement system design and deployment of relational mechanisms.

Research limitations/implications
The paper extends the service management literature that emphasises on service co-production by suggesting that inputs of the client firm and its supply chain partners may not only vary in quality but also can be inseparable from provider inputs and highly contestable. It also empirically demonstrates how performance attribution challenges and their antecedents and effects manifest themselves in B2B service provision, as opposed to supply chain settings where the main user of logistics services is the consumer.

Practical implications
LSP managers should contract for performance based on high-quality and incontestable external inputs they rely upon. Contractual specifications (performance indicators and related incentives) should explicate and consider the inputs required by clients and their supply chain partners to minimise their contestability.

Originality/value
The study proposes an empirically based framework of the antecedents and effects of performance attribution challenges, an issue that has received scant attention in logistics outsourcing research and the business services literature more broadly.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.