Structure of the Buying Center

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A NEW APPROACH FOR DETERMINIG THE STRUCTURE OF THE BUYING CENTER Assistant Sitar Corina Pop Sitar Ph.D. candidate Anne-Marie Hordău, North University of Baia Mare, Victoriei Nr. 76, Tel: 0262-276059, e-mail: sitarcorina@yahoo.com; annemariehordau@yahoo.com

Abstract: Although the buying center concept has made an important contribution to the study of organizational buying behavior, comprehensive research of the buying center structure has been limited. This paper extends the understanding of the structure of the buying center by showing and defining all the factors that have an impact on the buying center structure and by developing a framework for determining the structure of the buying center. The main value added of our framework is that is comprehensive and takes into consideration all the factors that have an impact on the buying center structure. In addition to all the factors studied before, our framework contains a new construct, the environmental characteristics, which has not been studied before by other researchers. Within each construct we added some new characteristics and we eliminated the duplications. Key words: buying center; purchasing management; organizational behavior.

Literature review
The buying center notion has been one of the most important conceptual contributions made in the study of organizational buying behavior. The concept of the buying center refers to all those members of an organization who become involved in the buying process for a particular product or service (Robinson et. al 1967). The main research streams of investigation found in literature include: buying center structure and factors that influence it; influence of members of the buying center; and communication between members of the buying center. Most researchers have studied the changes in the buying center (BC) composition and structure over the buying process and the factors that determined these changes. Researchers that studied the factors that determine changes in the BC composition and structure found four main categories of factors that influence the BC structure: company specific characteristics, purchase related characteristics, participants characteristics and type of the decision. A list of all factors that have been researched and the author(s) that has/have studied them is given in Table 1. From all these characteristics, purchase or product characteristics were found to be the most influential upon the structure of the buying center. The findings in this area indicate that purchase related characteristics such as purchase novelty, complexity, importance, time pressure and buy class are powerful determinants of the buying center structure (Geok-Theng Lau et al., 1999; Johnston and Bonoma, 1981, Johnston and Lewin, 1996, Bellizzi, 1979, Naumann, 1981, etc).

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Purchase related characteristics
Type of product

Organization characteristics

Participants characteristics

Type of decision

Time pressure

Risk preference

Straight rebuy

Centralization

Modified rebuy

Complexity

Uncertainty

Complexity

Buy class

Importance

Orientation

Formalization

Experience

Novelty

Personality

Education

Researchers

Webster and Wind (1972) Sheth (1973) Bellizzi (1979) Naumann (1981) Johnston and Bonoma (1981) Crow and Lindquist (1985) Johnston and Lewin (1996) Geok-Theng et al. (1999) * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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Motivation

Perception

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Table 1: A literature review of the factors that influence the BC structure Bellizzi (1979) and Naumann (1981) studied what impact the purchase-related factors have on the relative influence of the BC participants. Bellizzi (1979) found that the influence of the BC members was significantly related to the product type....
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