Academic journal article Journal of Supply Chain Management

The Vignette in a Scenario-Based Role-Playing Experiment

Academic journal article Journal of Supply Chain Management

The Vignette in a Scenario-Based Role-Playing Experiment

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

A scenario-based role-playing experiment (SBRP experiment) is an experiment in which varying versions of a descriptive vignette are deployed to convey scripted information about specific levels of factors of interest (i.e., independent variables) to human subjects (Alexander and Becker 1978). In an SBRP experiment, human subjects are recruited to assume an a priori defined role in reviewing the scripted information about specific levels of factors of interest (typically but not always in written format) and, through this role, to then react and respond to this scripted information. These reactions and responses are recorded in some manner, quantified and subsequently analyzed to yield empirical insights about the levels of factors of interest, about the nature of human subject reactions and responses (i.e., dependent variables), and as to how different levels of factors of interest affect the nature of human subject reactions and responses (Alexander and Becker 1978; Trevino 1992; Weber 1992; Wilks 2004). An SBRP experiment is, as such, analogous to a "framed field experiment" in economics (Harrison and List 2004) and to a "situational experiment" in behavioral operations management (Bendoly, Donohue and Schultz 2006), and can, moreover, be considered to be a specific manifestation of what consumer behavior researchers know as the "stated choice method" (Louviere, Hensher and Swait 2000; Shen 2005).

SBRP experiments have been used to study a host of managerial issues. Schweitzer and Gibson (2008), for example, used an SBRP experiment to show that when retailers make pricing decisions for unfair purposes (e.g., increasing the price of snow shovels after a snow storm to reap above-normal profits), then consumers would feel justified in engaging in unethical behaviors themselves (e.g., choosing not to report that they had received more than the correct change at the checkout register). Lewicki and Sheppard (1985), as another example, conducted an SBRP experiment to show how use of third-party mediation in resolving co-worker disputes depends on the amount of time the co-workers have to resolve their disputes, the expected frequency of future interactions between the co-workers, and the extent of organizational impact from the resolution outcome. In their SBRP experiment, Tomlinson, Dineen and Lewicki (2004) found that whether or not a business partner is forgiven after a violation of business relationship trust is substantively influenced by the sincerity of the apology given by the business partner who committed the violation and the extent to which the offender had accepted full responsibility for the violation.

SBRP experiments have likewise seen increasing deployment in marketing research. Song and Zinkhan (2008), for example, reported that while e-retailer web-sites for conducting business can certainly benefit from increased functionalities and features (e.g., chat room capability), the quality of these functionalities and features (e.g., being able to refer to an online customer by name) plays a significant role in determining the level of website interactivity perceived by consumers. Morrisson and Huppertz (2010) demonstrated with an SBRP experiment that customers generally expect to be subjected to the same failure recovery treatment unless they are members of "preferred customer" programs; in the case of the latter, customers believe that preferential failure recovery treatment is legitimate and to be expected. Neale and Fullerton (2010) as a third example, revealed how Europeans are generally more lenient of potentially unethical consumer actions than are Asians and Africans and, moreover, that consumers across all cultural groups are becoming increasingly more sensitive to questionable behaviors.

Within operations and supply chain management, Mantel, Tatikonda and Liao (2006) used an SBRP experiment to show how perceptions of supply risk and the degree of core competence affect decisions by supply managers to choose between in-sourcing versus outsourcing of the manufacture of a product component. …

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