Marketing Exchange Relationships, Transactions, and Their Media

By Franklin S. Houston | Go to book overview
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interdependence is accompanied by conflict and cooperation ( Bonoma 1976).

Conflict is defined as "the mutual interference that hinders the accomplishment of individual and/or mutual goals. . . . Cooperation is the joint striving toward individual and mutual goals" ( Skinner, Gassenheimer, and Kelley 1992, 177).

Although the coexistence of conflict and cooperation seems contradictory, we find that the reality of dependence, self-interest, and group welfare necessitates the presence of both. Bonoma ( 1976) explains in his discussion of bilateral power systems.

Conflict . . . seems to depend on some ratio of divergence between one's preferred policies for self-gain maximization, and those entertained for unit maintenance enhancement . . . Those parties to interaction are cooperative who display a visible concern for participating in unit policy formaion, and therefore unit welfare enhancement. (p. 510)

Bonoma further suggests that parties can unselfishly, but stubbornly, disagree on the joint policies needed to enhance the goals of the unit. This type of functional conflict can create an awareness that mutual goals can be more efficiently achieved by restructuring the exchange elements for the good of both parties. At other times conflict may overshadow group welfare where neither party can function effectively. Without a common goal the relationship eventually dissolves ( Dwyer, Schurr, and Oh 1987).

On the other hand, dependence and group interest encourages cooperative behavior. But too much cooperation can be dangerous. Although we generally think of cooperation as functional, it can also be dysfunctional and destroy relationships. For example, cooperation with one exchange partner can threaten the relationship with other exchange partners. In addition, excessive cooperation can instill complacency, preventing parties from reacting to changing conditions.

Here, successful resale exchange is viewed from the perspective that cooperation and conflict will ebb and flow until an equilibrium supportive of the resale exchange unit is reached. Therefore, cooperation and conflict are not viewed as functional or dysfunctional, but as mechanisms for mediating relationships. We often find suppliers and resellers cooperating to serve the needs of the unit but fighting over the distribution of rewards. The hoped for consequence of the interaction and the belief that each party's individual goals will prevail is the reason the exchange relationship survives.


Finally, the question is asked: how does resale exchange fit into the social system of interrelated, yet sometimes competitive exchange relationships? If outputs are greater than the sum of the inputs, then the role of resale exchange has served its purpose. This is also true of consumer exchange. This brings us to the most important difference between resale and consumer exchange. Resale exchange is not a necessary condition for a successful consumer exchange, but consumer exchange is a necessary condition for a successful resale exchange. However, although the latter is neccessary, it is not sufficient.

As we examine relationships, we find that social systems are really open systems and players are forced to deal with uncertainties created by the imbalance of multiple reciprocal interdependencies. Once this point is reached in the mapping of resale exchange, we find unchartered waters. There is much to be


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Marketing Exchange Relationships, Transactions, and Their Media


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