Online from: 1989
Subject Area: International Business
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|Title:||The impact of discontinuity on firms' business relationship behaviour|
|Author(s):||Amjad Hadjikhani, (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden), Cecilia Lindh, (Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden), Peter Thilenius, (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)|
|Citation:||Amjad Hadjikhani, Cecilia Lindh, Peter Thilenius, (2012) "The impact of discontinuity on firms' business relationship behaviour", European Business Review, Vol. 24 Iss: 2, pp.134 - 150|
|Keywords:||Adaptation, Business cycles, Channel relationships, Commitment, Cooperation, Market crisis, Project marketing, Sweden, Trust|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/09555341211204008 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – With a comparative aim, the purpose of this paper is to challenge the general assumption behind relationship longevity. The question under attention is whether firms' relationship of a discontinuous nature is different from continuous relationships and if so what this diversity entails. In the essay, a conceptual view is developed and tested statistically. The ambition is to add new knowledge to the field of business relationships.
Design/methodology/approach – The essay's theoretical foundation rests on relationship theory and employs the four relationship behaviour elements of trust, commitment, cooperation and adaptation. Differences/similarities in the effects among these elements are tested for two types of relationships, i.e. those of continuous and discontinuous exchange, using data from 353 Swedish firms.
Findings – The results show that a firm's behaviour in continuous relationships rests on incremental change, in the sense that the relationship elements of trust, commitment, cooperation and adaptation display sequential and progressive effects. This supports the common notion of a gradual strengthening of the business relationship resulting in longevity. Contrary to this, a firm's behaviour in discontinuous relationships is guided by the level of trust, which thus forms the base for the remaining elements. The absence of incremental change in the relationship behaviour and the pivotal role of trust mean that these relationships are weaker and are faced with interruptions and interference from competitors. Thereby business firms are confronted with different marketing challenges. The differences in the relationship behaviour of the two types signify that the view of relationships indeed needs advancement.
Originality/value – Falling from a continuous to a discontinuous business relationship is becoming more common due to reasons such as market crises, business or firm crisis or because of the nature of the businesses as such. While earlier research studied the relationships' continuity and discontinuity separately, this paper enriches the earlier efforts and compares the two types. Understanding the differences between the two types of relationship can enrich the knowledge, not only for researchers but also for business managers.
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