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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2014
Thesis number: 13748
Identifying value mismatches in B2B relationships: A case study in the recruitment industry
Author: Barndik, Sari
Title: Identifying value mismatches in B2B relationships: A case study in the recruitment industry
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; business-to-business; business-to-business; arvot; values; arvoketju; value chain; palvelut; service; kokemus; experience
Pages: 68
Key terms: value, value co-creation, business-to-business, B2B, service experience, service relationship, recruitment industry

This research explores the value co-creation and communication process in a B2B service in the recruitment industry, and it investigates the mismatch between the company's perceived and communicated versus the customer's perceived value; what the company believes is the main value it provides and how customers ultimately perceive it, and where possible tension and differences in value realization and perception stem from. The objective of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of how and why value mismatches rise in B2B service relationships; this research will especially focus on the social dimension and communication issues in a service relationship.

Academic background and methodology:

Value research is extensively studied but remains vague and controversial due to its context-specific and dynamic nature. However, some general progress in the research field include a service-dominant view, identifying the customer as a co-creator and determiner of value, and the need to co-create value with customers to increase value for all parties involved. This research is qualitative and uses a case company that operates in the recruitment industry. The methodology of this research consists of two parts: a pre-analysis of the marketing material of the case company, and semi-structured in-depth interviews with representatives from two customers of the case company as well as the company's employees in charge of those customer relationships. This approach allows for the chosen relationships and projects to be more comprehensively investigated from both parties' sides, and insights that are not visible from the outside of the relationship may be better reached.

Findings and conclusions:

This research provides insights into the literature of value creation in B2B relationships by identifying value mismatches emerging while creating value-in-use for the customer in a service process. The value mismatches identified stem from differences in economic, functional, emotional and symbolic value contexts between the case company and customer. In addition to demonstrating the existence of value mismatches, the findings bring forth risks and unrealized value that may also exist due to challenges or problems in the social aspects of a business relationship. Different social aspects were identified as underlying reasons for value mismatches, and the recognized value mismatches were interpreted based on them. Finally, after recognizing value mismatches and understanding the reasons behind them, recommendations for decreasing mismatches were offered.
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