There is a considerable body of research on ongoing customer-supplier relationships in business markets, but empirical research on the development of new business relationships and early stages of business relationships is more limited (Edvardsson et al., 2008). The initial phase of development of a business relationship appears to pose specific problems with important consequences for marketing and management of business relationships (Aaboen et al., 2011; Gadde et al., 2012). The relationship marketing literature in general implies that development of new customer-supplier relationships tends to be intentional and results from the identification of exchange opportunities and the development of an economically convenient offering (Gummesson, 1996; Sheth & Parvatiyar, 1995). In contrast research dealing with business relationships has shown that the initial phases of a business relationship are often “chaotic” for the managers involved on both sides and the development often takes unexpected directions. This aspect of the customer-supplier relationship development is rather neglected in the general relationship marketing literature. Since business relationships develop as a sequence of interactions that take place between two counterparts (Holmlund, 2004), an investigation of interaction processes is required to understand how new relationships start. In this paper we report a case study describing the interaction processes when business relationships are initiated and illustrates how contextual factors affect the process. Exploring the development of a business relationship between previously unconnected businesses we focus on the role played in relationship development by exogenous factors.
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- Developing New Business Relationships: An Outside-In Perspective
Antonella La Rocca