In customer-supplier relationships individuals representing respective companies interact to solve a number of adaptive problems and how the relationships will develop depends on the solutions they jointly devise. Their interactive meetings are characterized by conditions of limited time, information, and processing capacity that render extensive information gathering and analytical cognitive elaboration impracticable and lead the individual actors to adopt behaviors based on rules and heuristics. In this paper, we review the extant literature on heuristics in management and present the findings of an exploratory study on the use of heuristics in interactions in customer supplier relationships. We found that preparing for meetings and during them actors use six sets of heuristics. Heuristics used in interaction during the meetings concern the degree of adaptation to the specific counterpart, how to react to unexpected developments, and a general code of conduct. In preparing for meetings, heuristics are used to define the information to collect, its sources, and how to use it. Our study suggests heuristics used are personal, originate in both organizational norms and personal experience, and are seldom shared with others.
- Heuristics, Customer-supplier relationships, Interaction, Cognition, Actors in business relationships