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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

When Customers Take Initiative in Participation: Determinants, Consequences, and Boundary Conditions in the B2B Context

Published: May 27, 2020


Yi-Chun Ou, University of Leeds; Ilias Vlachos, La Rochelle Business School, Excelia Group


Service-dominant logic; Co-creation; Customer-led participation


Research on customer participation often focuses on the extent to which companies take initiative to ask customers to participate in the co-creation process (firm-led participation). A less emphasized view of customer participation is the extent to which customers take initiative (customer-led participation). We incorporate service-dominant logic and equity theory in the business-to-business context to develop a theoretical framework of customer-led participation to empirically examine its three types (suggestions, invitations, and sharing), determinants (suppliers’ operand and operant resources), consequences (customers’ perceived value, perceived backfire, and repurchase intentions), and boundary conditions (customers’ perceived intimacy, organizational culture, and perceived contribution). We use a mixed-method approach (interviews and surveys). We first interviewed four managers from a multinational logistics supplier in Indonesia. The purpose was to confirm whether the proposed constructs and links in the conceptual framework exist in the real world in exchanges between suppliers and their customers. We then collected data from customers who are in direct contact with suppliers and used structural equation modeling as our main analytical method. The findings show that operand resources decrease while operant resources increase customer-led participation. The impacts of operand and operant resources are conditioned on perceived intimacy (stronger for customers perceiving less intimacy), organizational culture (stronger for customers in a desired organizational culture), and perceived contribution (stronger for customers having more contributions, but the signs of the effects of operand and operant resources are reversed [positive for operand resources and negative for operant resources]). A warning for suppliers is that customer-led participation increases not only perceived value but also perceived backfire, which indirectly influences repurchase intentions.