The Challenge of Multinational Corporation (MNC)-Led Growth and Internationalization: The Case of Nokia-Dependent Suppliers

Anna Salonen, Mika Gabrielsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This research is aimed at gaining a better understanding of supplier-customer relationships in the context of asymmetrical dependence. Of particular interest is to develop an enhanced understanding of the conditions under which such relationships can be mutually beneficial despite the problems traditionally associated with relationship asymmetry.Methodology: The empirical context is provided by a case study of Nokia and three of its Finland-based suppliers that have grown and internationalized in a customer-led manner. Following a review of the literature, we introduce a conceptual model and then test it against findings from the case study.Findings: We find that relationships characterized by asymmetrical dependence can be mutually beneficial as long as the boundary conditions governing the relationship remain favorable. In particular, relational variables such as trust and commitment can balance an otherwise asymmetrical relationship. However, such relationships are vulnerable to changes in the external environment, which may expose the more dependent party to power influences. Thus high customer dependence is best viewed as a temporary condition and the supplier should actively seek for strategies to reduce dependence. Originality: Much of existing research on interorganizational relationships fails to provide an understanding of relationship development over time and, in particular, in relation to changing environmental conditions. This study provides such a perspective and does so in the context of a supplier-customer relationship characterized by asymmetrical dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Business-to-Business Marketing
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)147-173
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • 512 Business and Management
  • dependence
  • globalization
  • internationalization
  • power
  • supplier-customer relationships


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