Supplier-user relationships and the management of expertise in computer systems development
This chapter explores the dynamics of buying and selling computer technologies, at a time when conventional managerial divisions of labour are being renegotiated and organizational hierarchies are themselves the focus of change. The empirical work reported is a summary of some of the findings from a project which explored the nexus of relationships between suppliers and their customers. The chapter argues that the management of such relationships is an important factor in the take-up and use of new technologies. In particular, it is one means by which suppliers gather feedback for product innovation, and users learn about new products, make purchasing decisions and construct plans for implementation. A parallel set of processes can be described in the user firms who comprise the market for computer systems suppliers. The chapter analyses the business structures contrived to manage the qualitative uncertainties generated by the product development and technology acquisition cycles.