Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Buyer Perceptions of Relationship Importance and Relationship Quality in Determining Whether Relationships Continue

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Buyer Perceptions of Relationship Importance and Relationship Quality in Determining Whether Relationships Continue

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper presents a conceptual framework that considers the buyer's perceptions of the roles of relationship importance and relationship quality in determining the likelihood of continued interaction between buyers and suppliers. It is hypothesized that both relationship importance and relationship quality positively influence the likelihood of continued interaction between buyers and suppliers. It is also hypothesized that relationship importance moderates the effect of relationship quality on the likelihood of continued interaction between buyers and suppliers. This paper also presents empirical results based on a mail survey of buyers on their perceptions of their relationship with one supplier. The results support the hypotheses. Implications of the results for managers are also presented.

INTRODUCTION

One of the key objectives of relationship marketing is to develop and maintain relationships with buyers where the emphasis switches from attracting new customers to retaining current customers (Morgan & Hunt, 1994; Evans & Laskin, 1994; Dwyer, Shurr & Oh,1987; Selnes, 1998). It is therefore important to understand what influences buyers to stay in relationships with their sellers or suppliers. Relationship quality has been shown to have an effect on the likelihood of continued interactions occurring between buyer and seller (Crosby, Evans & Cowles, 1990; Hennig-Thurau & Klee, 1997), however, it is possible that the importance of the relationship moderates the role of relationship quality in determining the probability of additional contact occurring between buyer and seller. This outcome may be particularly true when the seller's product or service is crucial to the buyer's business. In such a situation, the buyer may be basing his/her firm's entire livelihood on the relationship with the supplier and the importance of the relationship may prevail over the quality of relationship, especially if the quality is poor, in determining whether or not to continue the relationship (Frasier, 1983). Importance may also work in conjunction with relationship quality. For example, it is highly probable that a buyer who has a good relationship with an important supplier would want to maintain the relationship (Walker, Churchill & Ford, 1977; McQuiston, 1989). Understanding the roles of relationships importance and relationship quality can be useful for suppliers who want to develop their relationship marketing strategies to strengthen and maintain their existing buyer/supplier relationships

This study addresses the following research questions: What is the role of relationship importance in determining the likelihood of continued interaction between buyer and seller? What is the role of relationship quality in determining the likelihood of continued interaction between buyer and seller? Is the role of relationship quality in determining the likelihood of continued interaction moderated by the importance of the relationship between buyer and seller? As previously mentioned, relationship quality has been shown to influence the likelihood of continued interaction (Crosby, Evans & Cowles, 1990). This research adds the relationship importance dimension to determine if the importance of the relationship moderates the role of relationship quality in determining the likelihood of continued interaction between exchange partners.

In today's business climate it is increasingly important for businesses to develop and maintain enduring relationships with customers (Naude & Buttle, 2000; Henning-Thurau, Gwinner & Gremler, 2002). The quality of the relationship and the importance of a relationship to the firm's business may influence the firm's decision whether to continue in a relationship. This study models the role of relationship importance and relationship quality in determining the likelihood of continued interaction by asking buyers to rate the likelihood that they would continue to work with a particular supplier in the future. …

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