The increasing popularity of service-based strategies among manufacturers, such as solution provision, makes service triads commonplace within business. While there is some consensus that “relational” (i.e., close or collaborative) relationships are beneficial for the performance of individual actors and the triad as a whole, there is little known about what exactly affects the service performance of an actor in these triads. In this study, we investigate the influence of the manufacturer–service supplier relationship on the performance of the service supplier toward the manufacturer's customers. As this phenomenon is causally complex and context dependent, we assume that there will be alternative configurations of relationship characteristics and contingent factors that lead to high service performance. To uncover potential configurations, we deployed fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis, on data collected from 38 triads within the network of a large Anglo-German commercial vehicle manufacturer. Our research shows that—in this context—superior service performance cannot be generalized to one relationship configuration and is also contingent upon exogenous factors—that is, contract support and service site size. We uncovered four “core” configurations of relationship dimensions and two exogenous factors. Three of the configurations exhibited relational properties, while the fourth configuration had transactional properties. This is counter to extant research findings. We extend the perspective that within triads, service performance is not an outcome of a single “close,” or “collaborative” relationship and is a combination of multiple configurations consisting of varying relationship dimensions and exogenous factors.
- fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis
- relationship determinants
- service performance
- service triads