The moderating effects of customer driven complexity on the structure and growth relationship in young firms
Close exchange relationships with customers are recognized as important for young firms. In fact, close partnerships with customers provide many advantages, such as innovation, opportunity recognition, reputation, etc. The current paper argues that customers with their close exchange relationships create significant complexities for young firms that require effective structural response. Based on past work on customer driven complexity, four parameters of customer driven complexities were conceptualized: customer variability, customer opportunism, customer-interaction variability, and customer-interaction specificity. Using both archival and survey data from 134 young (6 year old or younger) firms, this study tests the moderating influences of customer driven complexity variables on the relationship between structure and growth of young firms. Findings support the suggestion that more formalization and less delegation of authority at the customer interface significantly contribute to the growth in young firms. However, the positive relationship between formalization and revenue growth is found to be weaker when young firms face a higher level of customer variability and stronger when firms face a higher level of customer opportunism. Similarly, the negative relationship between delegation of authority and revenue growth is weaker when these firms face either a higher level of customer-interaction variability or a higher level of customer-interaction specificity.
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