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Antecedents of conflict in marketing's cross‐functional relationship with sales

Philip L. Dawes (Wolverhampton Business School, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Graham R. Massey (School of Marketing, University of Technology, Sydney, Broadway, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 November 2005




The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a model of the factors that explain the level of interpersonal conflict between marketing managers and sales managers. The paper aims to establish the overall level of interpersonal conflict in the full sample and in the two sampled countries (UK and Australia).


The study draws on two theoretical frameworks to develop the model, namely structural contingency theory and the interaction approach. More specifically, the conceptual framework uses three groups of variables to explain interpersonal conflict: structural, individual, and communication. Importantly, the study developed and tested nine hypotheses. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test the validity of the measures while OLS regression was used in testing the hypotheses. The data were collected from 200 sales managers in the UK and Australia.


Overall, the study finds that there was a surprisingly low level of interpersonal conflict between marketing managers and sales managers and that there were no differences across the two countries. Of the three groups of variables, the two communication variables – frequency and bidirectionality – had the strongest effects on interpersonal conflict. The next strongest effects were from the individual‐level variables – psychological distance and the sales manager's formal education. The findings also reveal that the level of the sales manager's marketing training and the marketing manager's sales experience had no influence on interpersonal conflict. Two of the three structural variables – use of lateral linkages and being part of a corporation – had the hypothesized negative impact on interpersonal conflict.


This is the first study to use a large empirical survey to examine the marketing and sales dyad. Also, it is one of the few studies to test the effects of communication behviours on peer manager conflict.



Dawes, P.L. and Massey, G.R. (2005), "Antecedents of conflict in marketing's cross‐functional relationship with sales", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 39 No. 11/12, pp. 1327-1344.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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