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School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13337
Communication in supplier relationships: the case of Finnish sourcing in China
Author: Hou, Yanru
Title: Communication in supplier relationships: the case of Finnish sourcing in China
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: International Business Communication
Index terms: yritysviestintä; business communication; business-to-business; business-to-business; kansainvälinen; international; Kiina; China; Suomi; Finland
Pages: 91
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_13337.pdf pdf  size:2 MB (1387019)
Key terms: communication with suppliers; cross-cultural business communication; sourcing in China; supplier relationship; international business communication
Objective of the study: The objective of the study was to research the supplier relationship management in a case company from the perspective of business communication. The case company was a Finnish buyer organization and its supplier was a Chinese company in the health food industry. The study evaluated their relationship and investigated their communication through two research questions: (1) What kind of challenges can be identified in the relationship between the Finnish buyer and the Chinese supplier company? In what processes of sourcing do they emerge? (2) What communicative strategies do the Finnish buyer and Chinese supplier use to overcome the challenges? What are their perceptions of communicative compromises and communicative effectiveness?

Methodology and theoretical framework: The data in the qualitative single case study was mainly collected by conducting three semi-structured interviews with representatives from the buyer and the supplier company. As supplementary data, emails between two interviewees in a two-week period were sorted into a corpus for content analysis. The theoretical framework was established on the basis of Seppälä's supplier relationship research model in order to investigate the relationship status between the case organizations. Communication between the case organizations was examined from the cultural, language and interpersonal dimensions.

Findings and conclusions: The findings of the study indicated the challenges of the case supplier relationship. Firstly, the production time was not fully controlled by the supplier and the information exchange about the delivery delay cases was not efficient and timely. Secondly, the Chinese buyer's email communication on troublesome issues was indirect. Thirdly, managing the sourcing quality of product packages was challenging due to the different cultural aesthetics. Fourthly, BELF was not a barrier for daily communication but the Chinese supplier's inadequate BELF competence impacted the explanation on technical issues and the expression of emotions. Fifthly, the Finnish buyer committed to the relationship relatively less than the Chinese supplier.

The findings also showed that the Finnish supplier had made repeated efforts to communicate their requirements on email communication and package quality. In addition, the communication on time management was not effective and aroused temporary intensity in the relationship. It was also observed that both Chinese and Finns had compromised to the counterpart's communication style and culture to some extent. However, at a general level, effective interpersonal communication was a significant positive determinant for their relationship, especially for resolving business and interpersonal disputes.
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