Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Attitudes of Exporters and Importers to Supplier Selection Criteria and Sources of Information: A Comparison of United States Importers and Costa Rican Exporters

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Attitudes of Exporters and Importers to Supplier Selection Criteria and Sources of Information: A Comparison of United States Importers and Costa Rican Exporters

Article excerpt

This longitudinal study compares the perceptions of novice Costa Rican exporters with the information sources and selection criteria actually used by likely US customers. The two samples indicated the importance of 23 supplier selection criteria and 21 sources of information for export in a survey completed by 176 Costa Rican exporters sampled in 1990 and 2008, and 208 US importers sampled in 1990. Results revealed significant differences between buyer and seller on 18 of 21 information source items and 16 of 23 purchase criterion items. A replication survey 28 years later indicated no significant differences between buyer and seller on the 21 information source items. These results suggest that in this case more or greater experience-of the export-import process- is not associated with a more accurate perception of the attitudes of importers or on the part of exporters as significant differences remain for 12 of 23 purchase criterion items.

Introduction

Notwithstanding the fact that exporting has attracted significant attention from academicians in recent years, much of this interest has centered on exporting and exporting activities, not importing (Jefri and Ezell, 1 990, Gripsrud, Solberg and Ulvnes, 2006). A review of the relevant literature (Deng and Wortzel, 1995) revealed only two published, empirically based statistical studies of importer decision making. The import process remains one of the lesser understood areas in international marketing. Since marketing tools and theories must be applicable to both exporters (sellers) and importers (buyers) additional attention to the importing process may be warranted. This information exchange among both parties is critical, as importers are one of the most credible and less expensive sources of information for exporters (Benito, Solberg and Welch, 1993) Swamidass (1993) has suggested that the character of import sourcing has changed in recent years and that new theories are needed to explain the evolving trends in this underresearched topic. He argues that, in addition to the traditional economic variables of cost, market imperfections, and exchange rate factors, import sourcing theory must also include such factors as international purchasing expertise and the availability of able and willing foreign suppliers to fully depict the complexities of import sourcing decisions. This implies that import sourcing represents an evolutionary process or sequence that both buyers and suppliers pass through in distinct stages. This emerging view posits import sourcing as microeconomic organizational phenomena that must include an understanding of the business strategies and operations of both importers and exporters if it is to be fully understood.

From this perspective the internationalization process of importing firms is as important as the internationalization of exporters. The internationalization process of exporting firms has been subjected to widespread empirical research and appears generally accepted in the literature (Andersen, 1993). The seminal works in this field (Johanson and Wiedersheim-Paul, 1975; Bilkey, 1978; Cavusgil, 1980; Czinkota and Ursic, 1991; Reid, 1983 among many others) all have identified, using cross-sectional designs, the learning and innovation adoption process associated with increasing levels of export participation from the perspective of managerial behavior. These models basically see both 1) the lack of knowledge by the firm, especially experiential knowledge, and 2) uncertainty associated with imperfect information as the factors responsible for the gradual pattern of the firm's export involvement. This theory base suggests that exporters should develop, over time, gradually deeper and broader understandings of customers and markets. This learning, according to internationalization theory, should then propel the firm to both more efficient export operations and greater levels of export involvement. Consequently, such learning is one critical determinant of export performance (Uzzi, 1997). …

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