Business Relationships and Integration of Information Technology
Abstract: It is a well-established view that, over time, companies in a business-to-business setting develop long-lasting business relationships. The business relationship between two companies involves a wide range of exchanges on products, technical and economic issues. It also has a social content as it engages people in both companies. Business relationships are, therefore, argued to be founded on a varying extent of exchanges and content of behaviour. This thesis deals with the current and complex issue of the integration of information technology in such business relationships.Integration in this thesis refers to when information technology is purposefully used and inseparable from the business relationship. A special standardized questionnaire was used to collect extensive empirical data on 353 business relationships between suppliers and one of their important customers. The results of the analysis of the data in the thesis show that high information technology integration, in terms of exchanges and behaviour, increases the efficiency of information exchanges in business relationships. Integration is also connected to the importance of business relationships for the development of information technology and increases a company’s knowledge on this technology. Furthermore, the results show that what is fundamental for the integration of information technology is its combination with the strength of the business relationship. Thereby, the integration of information technology has a wider impact on business relationships than simply facilitating higher efficiency under certain circumstances. It affects the general competence in using information technology, and allows new opportunities for the business relationship and the companies.Through its rich empirical content, theoretical approach and proximity to current business situations, this thesis is of interest to researchers and students who wish to understand the employment of information technology in business relationships, or for business professionals who want to further understand their situation regarding information technology in order to make decisions about further employment.
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