When Buyer-Driven Knowledge Transfer Activities Really Work: A Motivation-Opportunity-Ability Perspective

Hyojin Kim, Daesik Hur, Tobias Schoenherr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


While supplier development has become a prominent strategy, it has also been shown to not always be successful. We take a contingency perspective in the present research to investigate why this may be the case. Unlike most prior studies, we examine the issue from the viewpoint of the supplier as the recipient of buyer-driven knowledge transfer, and assess factors that may attenuate or hamper its effect on the supplier's operational performance. We suggest, basing our arguments on the theoretical framework of motivation-opportunity-ability (MOA), that while buyer-driven knowledge transfer activities provide an opportunity for enhancing the supplier's operational performance, the degree to which this opportunity is realized depends upon both the relative absorptive capacity (ability), as well as the supplier's trust in the buyer, and the supplier's innovativeness (motivation). Specifically, we theorize that the supplier's perceived overlapping knowledge and its perceived cognitive congruence with the buyer (reflective of the supplier's relative absorptive capacity) and the supplier's trust in the buyer serve as positive moderators, and the supplier's own innovativeness as a negative moderator. We assess these hypotheses within a unique context, namely that of small- and medium-sized suppliers of large South Korean conglomerates (so-called chaebols), using hierarchical linear modeling. Our findings extend the academic literature in supplier development by providing insight into important contingencies influencing the effectiveness of buyer-driven knowledge transfer activities for improved operational performance of suppliers, based on the MOA framework, and offer valuable lessons for practitioners in crafting more effective supplier development strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-60
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Institute for Supply Management, Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Marketing


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