ORGANIZATIONAL PURCHASE DECISION MAKING: INFORMATION-PROCESSING STRATEGIES AND EVOKED SETS OF QUALIFIED SUPPLIERS
AuthorLeBlanc, Ronald Peter
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis research project specifically investigates the use of information processing strategies by organizational buyers in the first stage of the supplier selection process, the selection of an evoked set of qualified suppliers. In this selection process it is hypothesized that the buyer's use of evaluation functions or information processing strategies is influenced by the task faced by the buyer. The varying levels of risk, familiarity and informational requirements of the buying situation should impact the use of the information processing strategies. Structured protocols--written descriptions of compensatory and noncompensatory information processing strategies--were used to determine the evaluation function which organizational buyers use to qualify suppliers into an evoked set. The data was collected in a field study of 135 organizational buyers from 76 different organizations. The subjects were interviewed about purchases they were presently working on in which suppliers had been selected but the final purchase decision was still pending. Identification of the buying task, new task, modified rebuy, and straight rebuy also utilized the structured protocol technique. Written descriptions, based on the constitutive definitions of Robinson and Farris (1967), were used to address the following research question: Is there a difference in the decision rules or information processing strategies utilized by organizational buyers in the development of an evoked set of qualified suppliers when the buyer is qualifying suppliers for a new task, modified rebuy, or straight rebuy buying task? In addition to the information gathered via the structured protocols, information was gathered about the level of risk, familiarity and information requirements of the purchasing task. This was done to gain a better understanding of the use of information-processing strategies by organizational buyers. Analysis of the data indicates that the buying task is related to the choice of an information-processing strategy. The data also support the contention that the organizational buyer will utilize any of the information-processing strategies in the selection of an evoked set of suppliers. Although the buying task was found to significantly influence the use of the information-processing strategies, the study shows that all of the strategies were reported as being used for each of the buying tasks. In addition to finding that the buying task influences the choice of an information-processing strategy, the data support the model of information processing presented. The model addressed the impact that risk, familiarity, and information load had on the use of the evaluation functions. The risk node of the model was supported by two of the five risk variables included in the study: product homogeneity and supplier homogeneity. At the familiarity nodes of the model, the subjective measures of familiarity which support the model are supplier familiarity and frequency of product purchase. Supplier familiarity was found to be significantly different between the weighted and unweighted compensatory strategies. The significant difference in the level of familiarity found in the use of the conjunctive and disjunctive information processing strategies is associated with the frequency of product purchase. The final nodal section of the information-processing model which was supported is the comparison of the conjunctive and lexicographic strategies. The lexicographic strategy was found to be used when there was a higher perceived number of suppliers capable of supplying the needed product. In general this study has shown that the situation in which suppliers are selected impacts the use of an information-processing strategy. The findings are consistent with the research and hypothesizing associated with the use of information-processing strategies by consumers.
Degree ProgramGraduate College