Defence of doctoral thesis in the field of Industrial Engineering and Management, Wenting Zou

Title of the doctoral thesis: "Managing the complexity of service contracting in buyer-supplier collaboration"

This doctoral thesis is about managing the complexity of service contracting in buyer-supplier collaboration. The study aims to improve the current understanding of the essential dimensions of service complexity by investigating how service complexity influences service contracts and supplier performance. It also aims to investigate how different dimensions of service performance affect the business relationship and service contract renewal.

Service contracts are an essential part of purchasing business services. Purchasing business services have become increasingly important for companies as they strive for competitive advantages. The importance and complexity of service contracts increase with the complexity of the services, indicating managing service contracts can be very complicated. Yet, very little work has examined how service contracts' structure influences supplier performance. The observations of this study are based on a systematic literature review and survey research studies among service purchasing professional from 25 countries.

The systematic literature review identifies four dimensions of service complexity - multiplicity, diversity, interdependence, and variability. The review provides a comprehensive understanding of complexity manifestations. The empirical results show the crucial role of contract structure in effective service delivery. The study finds three major dimensions of service contracts (definition of responsibility, performance criteria, and incentives) and follow-up management practices that positively influence supplier performance. Interestingly, the study finds that service complexity significantly increases the need to design incentives in the service contract and buyer’s follow-up management towards better supplier performance. In terms of business service contracting outcomes, this thesis finds that expressive and collaborative service performance are more important determinants in successful buyer-supplier relationships, in comparison with competence-based service performance. The relationship performance mediates the links between expressive and collaborative service performance with customer repurchase intentions.

This thesis provides a better understanding of the factors that affect the success of service contracting, which can help buying organizations to improve the design and management of service contracts. The findings also help service providers to understand the factors that impact service contract renewal.

Opponent: Associate Professor Aki Jääskeläinen, Tampere University, Finland

Custos: Professor Risto Rajala, Aalto University School of Science,Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Contact details of the doctoral student: [email protected], +41795296077

The public defence will be organised via Zoom. Zoom link

The dissertation is publicly displayed 10 days before the defence in the publication archive Aaltodoc of Aalto University

Electronic thesis

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