Doanh nghiệp lữ hành quốc tế của Việt Nam và mô hình mối quan hệ thành công với các đối tác Thái Lan

Doanh nghiệp lữ hành quốc tế của Việt Nam và mô hình mối quan hệ thành công với các đối tác Thái Lan . International travel companies of Viet Nam and their successful partnership model with Thai Travel partners

Mai Ngoc Khuong (PhD.)

School of Business - International University – VNU-HCMC

Email: mnkhuong@hcmiu.edu.vn

Abstract

This study measures the international partnership success between two groups of Vietnamese and Thai travel companies.  Quantitative approach was the major method used, with statistical techniques applied, including factor analysis, multiple regression, and path analysis.  The unit of analysis was at the corporate level with the target population of all Vietnamese travel companies having partnerships with Thai travel partners.  The returned sample (n=114) had a response rate of 51.8 percent.  This study found that in order to achieve business success of the partnership, travel companies should a) participate in planning and goal setting in the partnership, b) show more commitment or dedication to working with the travel partners, c) increase the frequency of interaction, d) pay attention to organizational compatibility, e) formalize the partnership with their partners, f) have a more flexible partnership, and g) coordinate well their activities with the travel partners. In addition, the results of this study showed empirical evidence that the partnership success was directly affected by factors of commitment, financial benefits, and marketing support. On the other hand, the factors of trust, communication, commitment, frequency of interaction, and formalization indirectly affected the success of the partnership.

Keywords: Inter-organizational Relations, International Travel Partnership, Vietnam-Thailand Tourism

 

 

1.  Introduction

 

In today globalized and open market, all organizations have relationships with other organizations: suppliers, distributors, competitors, public organizations, governments, and other firms performing complementary activities like research and development, resources exchange, collaborative marketing, business partners, etc., to develop and survive. Scholars from a variety of disciplines are currently interested in different facets of these inter-organizational relations and among which international business partnership is considered a type of inter-organizational relationships between two or more companies. Thus, there has been much research conducted in the field of international business partnerships or relationships which confirmed a variety of positive outcomes for companies actively joined in strategic alliances or partnerships, such as higher return on equity, better return on investment, higher success rates, enhancement of sales and profits (Palmatier, et al., 2007), etc.. Ghosh, et al. (2004) found that industrial distributors when engaged in relationships with suppliers expected to obtain financial benefits through reducing operational costs and increasing profits and competitive benefits through improving products and services for customers.

Another perspective of studying which considers business partnerships and alliances between business companies as forms of relationship marketing is observed in the works of Morgan and Hunt (1994), Mohr and Spekman (1994), Medina-Munoz and García-Falcón (2000). Similarly, conceptual and empirical papers have appeared on the effectiveness of the relationship (Palmatier, et al., 2008) and model of relationship or partnership success (Arnett, et al., 2003). Unfortunately, in a dynamic globalized market, especially tourism market of ASEAN countries, there is a lack of the empirical studies of the international partnership success. 

This study aimed to identify factors leading to the international partnership success, in term business, between two groups of Vietnamese international travel companies and Thai travel partners with dependent variable of the business success, the intervening variables of financial benefits and marketing support, and independent variables derived from literature in the fields of international relationship marketing and inter-organizational relationship success. This study is also considered the first to attempt to identify the key determinants of the business success of the international partnership in the field of travel and tourism management. In addition, the objectives of this study should also make important contributions to both theoretical and practical research about how tourism organizations develop successful relationships outside the country in the dynamic process of globalization. 

 

2.  Literature Review

 

A business partnership or alliance must include at least two partner companies that: 1) remain legally independent after the partnership or alliance is formed; 2) share benefits and managerial control over the performance of assigned tasks; and 3) make continuing contributions to their partnership (Yoshino and Rangan, 1995).

Business partnership success refers to a quantitative measure of the mutual financial benefits that participants reap from the relationship (Narus and Anderson, 1987). The business value is the perceived worth of benefits relative to what is given (Smith and Nagle, 1995). The inter-organizational partnership creates value for constituents when their member organizations pool their capabilities to meet their needs, demands, and mandates, thereby improving their competitive position, which in turn increases their probability of organizational survival (Haspeslagh and Jemison, 1991).

According to Lorange and Roos (1993), relationships may allow a firm to reap three classes of benefits in an activity. The first is economies of scale, when organizations combine their efforts in activities such as a joint research or coordinated manufacturing. In this case, they might obtain volume-based cost savings and share investment. The second is the scope of advantages, when organizations combine their efforts in activities such as a joint sales force. The benefits would be, for example, an increased presence in the marketplace and the sharing of the costs of building the presence. Third is complementarity, when organizations combine their efforts in complementary activities, for example, when a company performs manufacturing activities and other performs sales activities. For the purposes of this study, partners’ perceptions of the successful business partnership which refer to the measure of financial benefits (i.e. profit on sales, commissions, cost reduction, price, etc.) and the measure of marketing support (i.e. promotional support, new source of customer, product and service diversification, etc.) created for partners by which they judge the partnership. The greater the financial benefits and marketing support they achieve through the partnership, the more successful they will perceive the partnership to be.

Bucklin and Sengupta (1993) conducted a research on successful co-marketing alliances. The model used in this research includes successful co-marketing alliances as dependent variable and independent variables are power balance, inter-organizational conflict in the relationship, benefits from the relationship, partner compatibility, prior history of business relations, age of the inter-organizational relationship, and turbulence in the environment.

Other researchers, Mohr and Spekman (1994) studied the characteristics of vertical partnership success between manufacturers and dealers. The results indicated that the primary characteristics of partnership success are: partnership attributes of commitment, coordination, trust, communication quality, participation, and conflict resolution techniques of joint problem solving.

In Vietnam, there have been two research focused on the topic.  Ngoc My and Van My (2008) conducted a qualitative research on the relationship between producers and distributors.  They found four factors that can lead to effective relationship; 1) trust, 2) commitment, 3) interdependence, and 4) willingness. In addition, Hang (2008) conducted a research on the relationship between industrial companies and universities/public administration institutes. She suggested two important factors that lead to the success of the relationships; 1) contextual factor and 2) organizational factor.

Based on extensive empirical data, this study takes the following key independent variables of trust, commitment, interdependence, coordination, communication, participation, conflict resolution, frequency of interaction, and organizational compatibility into consideration and should be understood as defined by previous researchers as follows:

Commitment to the relationship is defined as “an exchange partner believing that an ongoing relationship with another is so important as to warrant maximum efforts at maintaining it; that is, the committed party believes the relationship is worth working on to ensure that it endures indefinitely” (Morgan and Hunt, 1994, p. 23).

Conflict resolution in the partnership is defined as disagreements between inter-organizational relation participants (Dwyer et al., 1987). Conflict resolution in the partnership includes joint problem solving (Thomas, 1976), persuasion (Duetsch, 1969), domination (Mohr and Spekman, 1994), mediation (Anderson and Narus, 1990), internal resolution (Assael, 1969), and smoothing (Ruekert and Walker, 1987).

Coordination of the relationship is defined as the process by which participants in an inter-organizational relation seek to work together in a joint effort (Morgan and Hunt, 1994) based on a set of tasks that each partner expects the other to perform (Mohr and Spekman, 1994).  In addition, Mulford and Rogers define inter-organizational coordination as “the process whereby two or more organizations create and/or use existing decision rules that have been established to deal collectively with their shared task environment” (Mulford and Rogers, 1982, p. 9)

Frequency of interaction is defined as the amount of contact between organizations, measured in relation to an organization’s total contact with others (Hall, 2005).

Inter-dependence refers to a partner's perception of its dependence relative to its partners' dependence on the relationship (Anderson and Narus, 1990).

Organizational compatibility is considered as domain similarity and goal compatibility, which have been found to enhance the effectiveness of inter-organizational dyads (Ruekert and Walker, 1987).  Organizational compatibility reflects complementarity in goals and objectives as well as similarity in operating philosophies and corporate culture (Bucklin and Sengupta, 1993).

Participation in the relationship refers to partners in a relationship working together to plan all related activities (Mohr and Spekman, 1994) as well as taking part in major decisions (Devlin and Bleackley, 1988) and goal setting.

Trust in the relationship is defined as the willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence (Morgan and Hunt, 1994).

 

3.  Methodology

 

The unit of analysis for this study was at the corporate level, with the target population of all international travel companies of Vietnam having relationships with Thai travel companies. This number of Vietnamese travel companies was obtained from a list provided by the office of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Ho Chi Minh City, which consists of 237 companies. Due to the small number of travel companies, this study used the entire population as the sample for the research. In order to make sure that the expected number of returned questionnaires was obtained, the researcher decided to send the survey questionnaires to all travel companies on the list. 

 

Questionnaire Design and Data Collection

Most questions were formulated as statements on a five-point Likert-scale, ranging from 1 as "strongly disagree" and 5 as "strongly agree".  The primary data was collected through the survey questionnaires, which were sent to 220 Vietnamese international travel companies having relationships with Thai travel partners. The response rate was more than 51% with 114 usable questionnaire returned.  

 

Factor Analysis and Reliability  

Two exploratory factory analyses, which used the principal component extraction method and varimax rotation of 13 items of the group of dependent variables related to the business success of the international partnership and 24 items of the group of independent variables related to the factors affecting the international business partnership success, were conducted on the returned sample of 114 Vietnamese international travel companies which had a relationship with partners in Thailand. 

 

Table 1:  Summary of Dependent and Independent Variables with Reliability Coefficients

 

 

 

Given Names of Dependent Variables

Number of Items

 

Alpha

Factor 1

International Partnership Success (INPASU)                        

5

.693

Factor 2

Marketing support of the Relationship (MASU)                   

3

.716

Factor 3

Financial Benefits of the Relationship (FIBE)

5

.709

 

Given Names of Independent Variables

 

 

Factor 1

Trust in the Relationship (TRUSTIR)

4

.951

Factor 2

Participation in the Relationship (PARTIR)

4

.836

Factor 3

Conflict Resolution in the Relationship (CORE)

3

.824

Factor 4

Commitment to the Partnership (COMITIR)

3

.841

Factor 5

Organizational Compatibility (ORRCOM)

3

.793

Factor 6

Frequency of Interaction (FREINTER

3

.692

Factor 7

Interdependence in the Relationship (INTERDE)

2

.844

Factor 8

Coordination of the Partnership (COORDIR)

2

.708

 

4.  Results and Discussions

 

Profile of International Travel Companies Involved in the Study

Descriptive statistics showed that nearly 70% of the respondents answering the questionnaires of this research were managers of travel companies, directors of the company account for 36 percent and the chief of marketing department account for 33.3 percent. 

The majority of travel companies was small ones which employed fewer than 50 staff members (55.3 percent), 14 percent of the companies felt into the medium size group, and nearly 11 percent of the companies was considered large. 

Concerning the age of the international travel companies, the tourism industry of Vietnam is considered new, so the high percentage (more than 75 percent) of young companies (less than 10 years of age) is not a big surprise. In line with the age of the international travel companies, more than 88 percent of the involved companies have established relationships with Thai partners for less than 10 years.

 

Factors Affecting the International Partnership Success

Pearson Product-moment Correlation Coefficients (r) were employed to explore the correlation between the dependent variable (INPASU) and the independent variables: PARTIR (r=.550, p<.001), COMITIR (r=.477, p<.001), FREINTER (r=.322, p<.001), ORGCOM (r=.272, p<.001), COORDIR (r=.392, p<.001), FIBE (r=.254, p<.001), and MASU (r=.397, p<.001). This means that the higher level of these factors of the partnership, the higher level of the international partnership success.

 

Table 2. Descriptions and Variables’ Correlations of the Business Success Model

 

INPASU

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

1. TRUSTIR

.143

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. PARTIR

.550*

-.056

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. CORE

-.010

.289*

-.153

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. COMITIR

.477*

.182*

.420*

-.140

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. ORGCOM

.272*

-.153*

.363*

-.103

.191*

 

 

 

 

 

6. FREINTER

.322*

.230*

.314*

.016

.230*

.210*

 

 

 

 

7. INTERDE

.058

.224*

-.002

.054

.068

-.115

-.030

 

 

 

8. COORDIR

.392*

.099

.314*

-.146

.373*

.211*

.202*

.038

 

 

9. FIBE

.254*

.767*

-.003

.397*

.080

-.163*

.208*

.203*

.134*

 

10. MASU

.397*

-.178*

.213*

.056

.185*

.132

.243*

.089

.135*

-.035

Mean

3.87

3.45

3.93

2.24

4.12

3.68

4.08

3.36

3.83

3.02

Std. Deviation

0.53

1.27

0.52

0.83

0.54

0.58

0.62

0.89

0.59

0.99

Note:  * Significant level at p < .05.

 

In order to assess the direct and indirect effects, a series of four separate standard multiple regression analyses were employed for each dependent variable; namely, MASU, FIBE, and INPASU (two multiple regression analyses).  The results of these multiple regressions were integrated to form a path model of the international partnership success, shown in Figure 1.

 

Figure 1:  Path Coefficients of the Structural Equation for Hypothesis Testing            

* Note:  All coefficients in the model are significant at the .05 level.

 

Total Causal Effects of the International Partnership Success

Regarding the total effects, the factor of marketing support of the partnership had the strongest impact on the business success of the international partnership (β=.407).  According to De Vaus (2002), this value indicated the moderate effect of MASU on the INPASU.  Following was the factor of participation in the partnership, with a total path coefficient of (β=.368), also indicating that PARTIR had a moderate effect on the INPASU.

Ranked third was the factor of financial benefits of the partnership, with a total effect of (β=.268), showing that FIBE contributed a moderate effect to the business success of the international partnership. The factor of the commitment to the partnership (β=.277) was also considered to have a moderate effect on the business success of the international partnership.  Another positive factor, the coordination of the partnership, with a total effect of (β=.165),indicated a low effect on the dependent variable. In addition, the factors of conflict resolution of the partnership, frequency of interaction, and trust in the partnership provided low impacts on the business success of the international partnership, with (β= .132), (β=.107), and (β=.038) respectively. 

 

Table 3:  Direct, Indirect, and Total Causal Effects

 

Independent Variables

Causal effects

Direct

Indirect

Total

COORDIR

.165

-----

.165

COMITIR

.277

-----

.277

PARTIR

.368

-----

.368

CORE

-----

.132

.132

TRUSTIR

-----

.038

.038

FREINTER

-----

.107

.107

FIBE

.268

-----

.268

MASU

Total

.407

1.485

-----

.277

.407

1.762  

 

The results of the path analysis suggested that there were eight variables that directly and indirectly affected the business success of the international partnership.  In addition, the results also indicated that TRUSTIR trivially influenced the international partnership success indirectly with small effect of .038.  TRUSTIR was mediated by MASU and FIBE, both of which directly affected the partnership success.  These results indicated that involved travel companies had trust in the partnership with their travel partners but they did not receive enough marketing support from their travel partners.  Thus, they are currently not satisfied with the marketing support from the partnership.  This explains the reality that Thai travel partners provided Vietnamese travel companies with much information about cheap package tours in order to attract high flows of tourists to many destinations in Thailand. Thus, this created great competition between international travel companies within the Vietnamese tourist market in which these companies had to sell tours to Thailand at lower prices and simultaneously have suffered a higher rate of inflation in the economy annually (8.8%) compared with Thailand (2.7%) during the last ten years (World Bank, 2010).  Only large travel companies with longer periods of relationships had enough resources to compete, survive, and develop well, while other small travel companies got hurt in terms of financial benefits.

 

5.  Conclusion and Recommendations

This study presented empirical evidence regarding the factors affecting the international partnership success directly and indirectly, as well as provided reliable scales to measure theoretical dimensions of the partnership success model. Thus, a more comprehensive conceptual framework for measuring the success of the dyadic international partnership, with important factors suggested by previous studies, was built and tested in this study.

The results of this study, based on the significant correlations between the independent and dependent variables, suggested that in order to have successful business partnership with other travel partners, a travel company should: a) participate in planning and goal setting in the relationship (e.g. together take part in decisions, goal formulation, and  decision making processes); b) show more commitment or dedication to working with its travel partner; c) increase the frequency of interaction by sending tourists to the partner more often, contacting the partner by phone, email, internet, fax, etc., more frequently having meetings or visitations between partners, and finally, helping each other with other services (e.g. airline booking, hotel reservations, museums theaters, etc.); d) pay attention to the organizational compatibility when join in business relationship with partner; and e) coordinate well its activities with the travel partner. Having a more successful business relationship with one’s travel partner should translate into more marketing support and financial benefits achieved from the relationship.

This study also showed that, in order to achieve a high level of business success when a travel company decide to establish a partnership with a travel partner outside the country, managers should pay great attention and consideration to the important factors that provide significant, unique contributions to predict the success of the international partnership directly or indirectly, as suggested by this study.  The significant determinants that managers of travel companies should assign priority to were: a) trust in the partnership; b) participation in the partnership; c) commitment to the partnership; d) frequency of interaction; e) conflict resolution of the partnership; and f) coordination of the relationship.  In addition, managers on both sides should also look at their partners’ purposes in joining the partnership, as this study found that factors of marketing support and financial benefits of the partnership were the two key aspects that travel companies expected to be successful and that these factors directly affected their evaluation of the overall business success of the international partnership.

Although this study can be considered an initiation into measuring the business success of the international partnership through intervening variables, the results of this study showed that not all factors have direct and indirect effects on the business success of the international partnership for several subjective and objective reasons.  Future research should apply the model in other contexts with more meaningful statements for each factor or determinants of the business success of the international partnership. Data collection should be employed for both sides of the dyadic partnership as well.

 

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