A Study on Firm Internet-Interactive Capability in Interorganizational Cooperative Relationships


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
  • Chenting SU (Supervisor)
  • Guijun Zhuang (External person) (Supervisor)
Award date16 Oct 2020


In the internet environment, firms’ interaction with stakeholders, by adopting internet-interactive technologies, has attracted significant attention from practitioners and researchers in the area of business-to-business marketing and management. There are significant differences among firms’ internet-interactive capabilities (FIIC), for example, the capabilities of using internet-interactive technologies, such as enterprise resource planning and social media, to interact with partners. Based on the concept of FIIC, a previous study proposed a framework of “FIIC and interactive strategy on the basis of internet-interactive technologies” and a series of propositions. For instance, FIIC contains three subcomponents: interaction orientation, IT capability, and the capability of adopting internet-interactive technologies (AIIT). FIIC could affect firms’ adoption of different interactive strategy or behavior, which in turn affects firm performance. Some factors related to partners and the environment could be the antecedents of FIIC. Although extant literature has provided some empirical support for the framework and propositions, some essential gaps need to be addressed. First, previous literature has provided some measurements of subcomponents, and even developed the scale of internet interactive capability in the context of interactions between libraries and their readers. However, these scales are not suitable for interorganizational cooperative relationships. Second, existing literature has revealed the critical impact of subcomponents on firm performance, and contextualized and operationalized internet-interaction behavior into IOS- and SM-enabled interaction behavior. However, the mechanism that whether and how FIIC affects internet-interaction behavior and performance outcome has still not been explored. Finally, no studies have been found to explore the potential antecedents of FIIC yet. Furthermore, after confirming the significant role of FIIC in promoting firm performance and, it is imperative to identify the potential antecedents of FIIC.

The purpose of the dissertation is to fill these three gaps. The dissertation includes three studies. Study 1 designs and tests the scale of FIIC in the research setting of the manufacturer-distributer cooperative relationship. This study uses three primary stages to develop and test the scale of FIIC in interorganizational cooperative relationships, adopting both qualitative and quantitative approaches. First, this study describes how to design an open questionnaire through in-depth interviews and conduct a middle-scale survey to generate the preliminary item pool. An integrated preliminary item pool is established by juxtaposing the findings with the existing measurements in the literature for comparison. Second, this study employs a pretest and large-scale analysis to purify and modify the item pool. The evaluations include a series of analyses. Third, confirmatory factor analysis in two approaches is adopted to identify the designed scale’s discriminant and convergent validity. Besides, the instrumental validity of the designed scale is tested by empirically checking their direct relationships with joint planning and cooperation performance.

Study 2 focuses on the influence of FIIC on internet-interaction behavior as well as performance outcomes. Reviewing the literature about interaction behavior enabled by internet-interactive technologies, this study follows the existing contextualization of internet-interaction behavior and operationalize it into interorganizational system (IOS)-enabled interaction behavior and social media (SM)-enabled interaction behavior. The former refers to the practice whereby firms interact with channel partners through IOS (e.g., supply chain management), and the latter refers to the practice whereby firms interact with channel partners through SM (e.g., WeChat). According to the basic logic of resource-based theory, this study proposes that FIIC can improve internet-interaction behavior and further enhance performance outcomes (including communication efficiency and cooperation satisfaction). With data collected from 504 manufacturers, empirical results show that FIIC facilitates employees’ adoption of both IOS- and SM-enabled interaction behavior. IOS-enabled interaction behavior positively facilitates cooperation satisfaction but not significantly affect communication efficiency, whereas SM-enabled interaction behavior promotes both communication efficiency and cooperation satisfaction. IOS-enabled interaction behavior plays a mediating role between FIIC and cooperation satisfaction, whereas SM-enabled interaction behavior plays a mediating role between FIIC and both communication efficiency and cooperation satisfaction. These conclusions show that FIIC positively influences a firm’s performance through a mediation mechanism, which indicates the importance of FIIC in an interorganizational cooperative relationship.

Study 3 elaborates on the underlying antecedents of FIIC at both the dyadic and network levels, correlated with the manufacturer–distributors configuration. Given that Study 2 has proven the importance of FIIC to improve firm performance, what factors may affect FIIC in the manufacturer–distributors setting? The key role played by potential antecedents of FIIC remains mostly unexamined. Relied on the newly collected data on 400 manufacturers, the empirical results support the hypothesized relationships. The results reveal that the dyadic relationship quality and network density of the partner group are both positively to with a firm’s FIIC. Besides, FIIC is positively related to collaborative activities with its partners. Study 3 extends the prior literature on the characteristic antecedents of FIIC in the manufacturer-distributors setting.

In summation, this dissertation offers a systemic empirical exploration of internet-based interfirm interaction and provides a novel theoretical and empirical interpretation of the high-level capability known as FIIC. Three independent but interrelated studies are provided to explore the measurement, consequences and antecedents of FIIC, supporting the aforementioned conceptual framework. Theoretically, by developing and validating the scale of FIIC, Study 1 lays the foundation for empirical studies on interfirm interactions and the utilization of internet-interactive technologies in the future. The examination of instrumental validity provides empirical evidence concerning the causal logic between FIIC and other constructs. By examining the impact of FIIC on internet-interaction behavior, which further enhances communication efficiency and cooperation satisfaction, Study 2 contributes to the literature on the consequences and significance of FIIC. Also, incorporating the internet-interaction behavior into a framework enriches the research on the impacts of internet interaction behavior on performance outcomes in the business-to-business field. By identifying and examining the effects of two factors of different levels on FIIC, Study 3 tries to enrich the body of knowledge about the characteristic antecedents of FIIC. Practically, this study offers systemic and sufficient knowledge on FIIC for corporate managers, and provides guidelines for its formation and implementation.

    Research areas

  • Firm internet-interactive capability, Internet-interaction behavior, Marketing channel, Resource-based theory, Business-to-Business