Supply chain management in the insurance industry – symmetrical and asymmetrical analysis
Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing
School of Business and Law
Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) for financial support by national funds FCT/MCTES to UNIAG (UIDB/04752/2020)
Purpose: In view of the complexity of supply chain management (SCM) in the insurance industry, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper was the first to use symmetrical and asymmetrical methos to examine how the insurer’s service quality and SCM can be configurated to explain the relationships between the insurance companies and brokers as the intermediaries. This study positions insurance brokers as the insurance companies’ customers and supply chain partners, aims to examine the relationships between service quality, SCM and relationship quality. Design/methodology/approach: This paper undertook two studies and used two methods to examine how the insurer’s service quality and SCM can be configurated to explain the relationships between the insurance companies and brokers as the intermediaries. Both symmetrical and asymmetrical analyses were performed including regression and fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). Findings: The results from symmetrical analyses and fsQCA from two countries show substantial differences in how service quality and SCM affect relationship quality. In particular, fsQCA show that all service quality dimensions are important antecedent conditions of relationship quality for Portuguese brokers. Interestingly for Irish brokers, the combination of assurance, responsiveness and the insurer’ empathy conjunctively accounted for their satisfaction, whereas none of these quality factors are related to their commitment and trust. All SCM factors are important to explain the brokers’ relationship quality with their chosen insurers for both countries. Research limitations/implications: This study contributes to three areas of research: service quality, SCM and relationship marketing. Firstly, this study used an asymmetrical approach to providing insights into the effect of service quality dimensions by showcasing how these dimensions were configurated to explain the outcome of interest, rather than examining their symmetrical path coefficients. Secondly, this study identified the key factors of SCM in the insurance industry and how these factors can be configurated through Boolean algebra to explain relationship quality between supply chain partners. Finally, this study has implications for relationship marketing research. Practical implications: As the study was conducted with the insurance brokers in Portugal and Ireland, the findings have implications for the insurance companies for the two countries. As different service quality factors and SCM exert different effects on relationship quality, the insurance companies should look into these factors to modify their current practice to improve relationship quality with their brokers. Originality/value: Theoretically, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to approach from intermediaries to address effectiveness of SCM. Methodologically, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to use fsQCA – a case-based approach to understand SCM and relationship quality between stakeholders.