Purpose – The aim of this paper is to understand why a collaborative innovation, such as radio‐frequency identification (RFID) technology, engenders seemingly opposite buyer‐seller relationship reactions among members of a supply chain. Design/methodology/approach – The researchers carried out a three year exploratory multiple case study using the grounded theory approach through participant‐observation and collaborative action research. The research project culminated in a fully functional RFID proof of concept solution which involved multiple layers of a retail supply chain. The researchers chose the retail industry for the study because it provided the ideal conditions to answer the research question. Findings – The results highlight the role of supplier‐buyer relationships as both crucial antecedents that shape RFID infrastructure and the consequence of RFID implementation. Specifically, the impact on and of eight key dimensions was considered, namely communication and information sharing, cooperation, trust, commitment, relationship value, power imbalance and interdependence, adaptation, and conflict. The paper also positions open‐loop RFID projects as supply chain inter‐organizational systems and presents a model to analyze such initiatives. Research limitations/implications – The choice of methodology has provided the insight necessary to answer the research question. Other researchers are encouraged to validate these findings through replication with other case studies or through quantitative data to reach analytical and statistical generalizability. The authors also encourage future research on this topic in other industries. Originality/value – As more supply chains move forward with collaborative RFID initiatives, it is important that these companies be aware of the strategic role of supplier‐buyer relationships as both crucial antecedents that shape RFID infrastructure and a consequence of RFID implementation.
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2008
Keywords: Buyer‐seller relationships; Identification; Supply chain management; Retailing; Radiofrequencies
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