Conceptualizing the supplier switching process: an example from public procurement
Journal article, 2021

Purpose: This paper aims to develop a framework for switching a service supplier in a supply network. Design/methodology/approach: The study builds on existing literature in the field of purchasing and supply management, public procurement (PP) and the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing approach, as well as on an illustrative example case, from the PP context, of a supplier switch in a service delivery process. Findings: During a switching process, the buyer must simultaneously manage the ending of a relationship with the incumbent supplier and the beginning of a relationship with a new supplier. Collaboration with the focal suppliers to develop a service process with standardized components prevents disruptions in the service processes and reduces the impact of the switch on the wider network. Research limitations/implications: The conceptualization suggested in this paper needs to be further explored in different empirical contexts to assess its practical adequacy. Practical implications: Practitioners responsible for service procurement can use the findings to develop collaboration with suppliers, both when it comes to service process development and to the switching process. Furthermore, the authors highlight the importance of ending competencies and the development of an exit plan to conduct a “beautiful exit.” Originality/value: The paper integrates relationship initiation and ending studies, as well as procurement process models to develop a refined switching process framework. Many PPs rely on short-term relationships due to the legal obligation to frequently invite suppliers to tender, thus understanding the supplier switching process is important both for private and public sector actors.

Supplier network

Service delivery

Procurement process

Public procurement process

Supplier switching process

Service supply


Anne Maria Holma

Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius

University of Vaasa

Anu Bask

University of Turku

Antti Laakso

Aalto University

Dan Andersson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing

0885-8624 (ISSN)

Vol. In Press

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Business Administration

Information Systemes, Social aspects



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