Buying a communications solution: case studies on the buying behavior of small and medium sized Swedish businesses and organizations

Understanding organizational buying behavior is an area of social science which continuously experiences increased interest as business competition is more intense than ever. The interest radiates both from academia and the business world. This Master’s Thesis reports a study made for Ericsson Enterprise AB, Sweden. It explores the buying behavior of small and medium sized Swedish organizations and businesses in the context of buying a communications solution. A communications solution is an assortment of products and services that keep a business connected both internally and to the outside world through for example telephony and e-mail. The study is characterized as exploratory and descriptive as it tries to add to the understanding of how buying actually takes place set in what is shown to be a much unexplored context; the purchase of a communications solution.

In the constant strive for attaining and retaining market share, giants of the telecommunications industry are currently intensifying their focus on the smaller business and enterprise segment. This has increased the interest to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of organizational buying in smaller organizations and businesses. More specifically searching for answers to questions such as who the key decider is? Who are the influencers? What influences the choice of retailer? What are the inherent needs of the small and medium sized business segment? What weight is put on financial considerations of a potential purchase?

A multiple-case study was conducted with five cases – all organizations situated in Stockholm, Sweden. Investigating the decision process of a purchase and what people are involved it was found that the process is often simplified compared to that found when studying larger organizations. In addition to this, the number of people involved will also be fewer. It is invariably the CEO who makes the final decision to buy, but under strong influence from whoever has been left in charge of the project of finding a new solution.

The main conclusion drawn from this study is that the buying behavior of smaller Swedish organizations and businesses is characterized by an informal internal atmosphere requiring a different approach from suppliers than when dealing with larger enterprises. A potential supplier must be able to understand the business environment in which an organization operates – view things from their perspective and understand their problems. Through this, the benefits of a new solution will be better understood and perhaps spark the very important feeling of getting value for money. A second important conclusion is that getting the best adapted solution is more important than its initial cost, even for smaller organizations which can be under financial restrictions.

Author: Andersson, Fredrik

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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