Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Management

Advisor

Roth, Aleda M

Committee Member

Hora , Manpreet

Committee Member

Ozkan , Gulru F

Committee Member

Wilson , Paul W

Abstract

This dissertation consists of two complementary essays that investigate current product recall strategies in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated food sector. These studies address operations and supply chain factors that influence recall effectiveness with two theoretically-based, empirical approaches.
The first essay examines recall effectiveness as measured by time to recall, a proxy for potential consumer exposure to hazardous products (Hora, Bapuji and Roth, 2011) using duration analysis techniques. The unit of analysis is a recall event as documented by the product recall press release. Essay 1 addresses the following question: how do supply chain competencies related to integration and monitoring systems between supply chain partners, in addition to supply chain complexity factors, relate to time to recall?
The second essay investigates individual consumer perceptions of operational and supply chain information in the context of a product recall announcement. Consumer perceptions of product recalls are important indicators of recall effectiveness since they are linked, theoretically and empirically, with future consumer behavior; and therefore can affect future market share (Siomkos & Kurzbard, 1994). The unit of analysis is the consumer and a behavioral experiment is implemented to capture the effects of salient factors on consumer perceptions. Essay 2 examines the following question: how does information provided regarding operational and supply chain management aspects of product failure affect consumer perceptions and repurchase intent when a product is recalled?
The first essay, 'An Econometric Analysis of Product Recall Strategies and Time to Recall in the Food Industry,' subjects firms' proactive versus reactive product recall strategies to rigorous empirical scrutiny. In addition, we operationalize supply chain recall detection competence (SCRDC), which reflects the combined operational monitoring, integration and coordination systems across supply chain business partners. We use detection entity as a proxy for SCRDC, with the notion that superior SCRDC will be reflected, in part, by recall defects that are detected internally (i.e., by a supplier or the firm conducting the recall) rather than externally (i.e., by a consumer or a regulatory agency). We integrate multiple secondary data sources and apply duration analysis methods to test our model. Time to recall is an important aspect of recall effectiveness, since perishable products have a finite shelf life; consequently, there is a small window of opportunity in which a recall can be conducted in a way that actually reduces consumer exposure. We find that internal detections (i.e., defects detected by a supplier, or the recalling firm, rather than a consumer or a regulatory agency) have a shorter time to recall than external detections. In addition, our proxy for a firm's quality process maturity (i.e., the number of days of production affected by a particular defect) has a direct effect on time to recall (i.e., longer affected production periods are related to a longer time to recall). These findings have significant implications for future research, practice and policy, in part, because they suggest what types of supply chain strategies and governmental regulations might be implemented to reduce time to recall. Essay 1 contributes to operations and supply chain management theory and product recall research by extending quality management theory (Crosby, 1979; Juran, 1992; Roth, Giffi, Seal, 1992) via the notion of SCRDC, integrating notions of supply chain complexity (Bozarth, Warsing, Flynn and Flynn, 2009), and illustrating key differences between the applicability of proactive or reactive recall strategies to food products as compared to durable products (e.g., toys, medical devices, automobiles and other consumer products).
The second essay, 'Consumer Perceptions of Product Recall Strategies: The Effect of Attribution on Repurchase Intent, Recall Satisfaction, and Recall Responsibility,' uses a vignette-based experiment to examine the effects of firm communication to the public regarding the causes of quality failures on consumer perceptions of recall responsibility, recall satisfaction, and repurchase intent. We conduct an exploratory study that manipulates these three dimensions based on attribution theory (i.e., locus, controllability, corrective action) as experimental factors. We find that external locus failures (i.e., defects that happened within a supplier's operations) are related to higher levels of recall satisfaction and a shifting of responsibility away from the recalling firm and towards the supplier. Uncontrollable failures (i.e., failures outside of the volitional control of the recalling firm or supplier) appear to be better tolerated by consumers than controllable failures, as evidenced by effects on repurchase intent, recall satisfaction, and recall responsibility. Finally, providing information about a corrective action intended to address the underlying problem which caused the recall is linked to higher levels of recall satisfaction. Essay 2 contributes to supply chain management theory by adapting attribution theory to the context of operational and supply chain quality failures. In addition to providing preliminary implications for product recall research, this theoretical adaptation may be more broadly applicable to other situations where firms need to communicate to consumers regarding supply chain and operational events, including supply chain disruptions and corporate social responsibility issues.

In summary, understanding the effectiveness of recall systems in removing potentially harmful products from the hands of consumers, as well as understanding the consumer perceptions of those systems, is not only important for the creation and maintenance of sustainable supply chain performance, it is important for public health and well-being. In addition, this research suggests potential avenues for policy intervention which could provide additional incentives for firms to improve their quality processes. Future research can determine how these findings may (or may not) be generalizable to other industries and product types.

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