Dissertation: Learning from the customer can boost your business towards international growth

Uutisen oletuskuva
Do you really know your customer needs? A new doctoral dissertation in international business at the University of Vaasa explores learning in supplier-customer relationship interactions.
– It is inevitable to comprehend how and if firms learn from their relationships and interactions. Firms intending to internationalize, have to nurture relationship development capability, says Waheed Akbar Bhatti, who will defend his doctoral thesis on Thursday, 15th of November.
Waheed Akbar Bhatti väittelee Vaasan yliopistossa torstaina 15. marraskuuta.

– Learning helps them to understand customer needs and find international growth opportunities.

Bhatti’s study builds on interviews from four multinational and four small and medium enterprises describing how individual learning adds to firms’ knowledge of customer needs.

The individual level interactions are important, as these interactions influence firms’ decisions. These interactional outcomes connect and transform identified opportunities into international growth explained by Bhatti.

Sharing knowledge can lead to new opportunities

According to Bhatti it is important, to understand how inter-firm relationship learning influences firms’ decision-making.

Learning is not just information exchange, it involves a process, wherein the interacting individual understands customer requirements by asking the questions, absorbing them and relating to the firms’ products and services.

The learning helps to understand customers’ product or service, challenges, suggestions and changing requirements. It may seem simple but it is not so in practice, listening to understand and responding to resolve is an ability that requires patience and practice to nurture.

The dissertation highlights key role of individuals in these interactions, as they are the learning agent, ‘‘who do’’ the learning that is crucial for firm. This study points out how managers through effective utilization of learning opportunities and knowledge internalization processes can influence firm performance. Their ability to be responsive, attentive, and understand the customer process helps, find solutions to address those needs.

The communication helps in knowledge acquisition in supplier-customer relationship.

“I think personal relationships are of fundamental importance because they allow people to open up and be more honest and straightforward in their communication. Sometimes in sharing, the customers’ intentions are not to tell you something, but they happen to mention a development or an issue ….wherein we find a business opportunity.” An experience shared by a study respondent.

This research helps identify how supplier relationships evolve through inter-firm learning. The acquired learning highlights existing and future needs of the customer, as well as creates awareness. The study results point out that customers sharing relevant information varies with the level of trust in a relationship.

Bhatti recommends that firms must develop relationship learning as a growth-enhancing capability. The companies must develop open communication with customers to understand their needs, their way of working, their problems, and the work they intend to perform.

– Listen, be attentive and identify the needs of your customer, and be ready to embrace the growth opportunities.

Further information

Waheed Akbar Bhatti, tel. +358 44 980 9369, email: wbhatti@uwasa.fi

Bhatti, Waheed Akbar (2018) Relationship Learning in Inter-Firm Conduits. Acta Wasaensia 409. Doctoral Dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto. University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf and publication orders:  http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-476-829-0

Waheed Akbar Bhatti has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States and Master of Science degree in Management from Iqra University in Pakistan. Before his doctoral studies in Vaasa Bhatti has been working in manufacturing and service industries.

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Waheed Bhatti´s doctoral dissertation ”Relationship Learning in Inter-Firm Conduits” will be held on Thursday 15 November at 12 o´clock in auditorium Kurten (C203, Tervahovi). The field of dissertation is marketing.

Professor Per Servais (Linnaeus University, Sweden) will act as opponent and professor Jorma Larimo (University of Vaasa) as custos. The examination will be held in English.


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