PurposeDespite the positive effects of customer capital (CC), questions remain over how managers enable CC growth by applying their skills and capabilities through managerial actions and strategies, such as developing information technology (IT) capability, fostering relationship learning (RL) activities and developing green innovation performance (GIP) with clients. These questions are especially pertinent in small and medium-sized enterprises and automotive industry companies that operate through supply chains, where knowledge about customers is likely to result from personal contact between customers and organisational members. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the extent to which these managerial actions were more likely to lead to the successful creation of CC.Design/methodology/approachUsing the partial least squares technique, this paper studies how these three managerial actions impact on CC. To do so, data from 140 companies in the Spanish automotive components manufacturing sector have been used.FindingsThe findings support the influence of RL on both GIP and CC. RL is a key managerial action in exploiting customer information and knowledge advantages, enabling firms to structure and reconfigure resources to produce new ways to compete and to satisfy stakeholders. In addition, results show that GIP is a determinant of CC because of its contribution to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, with GIP performing a mediating role in the relationship between RL and CC. A second contribution shows that IT is not in itself able to yield a competitive advantage, thereby validating the existence of complementary or co-focused strategic assets such as RL and GIP, which enhance IT’s influence on CC.Research limitations/implicationsThe authors were unable to explore the subtleties of the processes over time. Future research should include a longitudinal study.Practical implicationsThis study considers RL an essential factor in achieving both GIP and CC. Consequently, managers should seek to build strong RL cultures. In addition, this study shows that IT is not in itself able to yield a competitive advantage, thereby validating the existence of complementary or co-focused strategic assets such as RL and GIP.Originality/valueNo study has ever examined these three antecedent variables (IT, RL and GIP) together, with the aim to examine their effects on CC.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2016
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