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Relationship value and relationship quality: Broadening the nomological network of business‐to‐business relationships

Wolfgang Ulaga (ESCP‐EAP European School of Management, Paris, France)
Andreas Eggert (University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 March 2006

16593

Abstract

Purpose

Established models of buyer‐seller relationships do not reflect managerial emphasis on supplier performance evaluation when modelling business relationships. Proposes that relationship value should be included as a key constituent in such models. Aims to explore the construct's links with key constituents of relationship quality, i.e. commitment, satisfaction, and trust.

Design/methodology/approach

A two‐stage research design was used. First, depth‐interviews were conducted with ten senior‐level purchasing managers in US manufacturing companies. Second, data were gathered in a nation‐wide mail survey among 400 purchasing professionals.

Findings

The findings suggest that relationship value is an antecedent to relationship quality and behavioural outcomes in the nomological network of relationship marketing. Value displays a stronger impact on satisfaction than on commitment and trust. Value also directly impacts a customer's intention to expand business with a supplier. In turn, its impact on the propensity to leave a relationship is mediated by relationship quality. Contrary to previous research, trust does not appear in this study as an antecedent of behavioural outcomes, but as a mediator of the satisfaction‐commitment link.

Research limitations/implications

Confirms the role of value as a key relationship building‐block. Researchers should integrate this cognitive performance‐based construct in models of business relationships. Limitations and research directions refer to the sampling procedure, the need to include the supplier's value perceptions, the possibility of conducting longitudinal research, and the opportunity to assess additional moderating variables.

Practical implications

When the goal is to increase business with an existing customer, managers should focus on relationship value. In turn, when managers are concerned with the risk of customers leaving a relationship, they should focus on relationship quality. Trust appears as an important ingredient in stabilising existing business relationships.

Originality/value

Stresses the pivotal role of relationship value in marketing. Contributes to a better fit between relationship marketing models and managerial practice in business markets.

Keywords

Citation

Ulaga, W. and Eggert, A. (2006), "Relationship value and relationship quality: Broadening the nomological network of business‐to‐business relationships", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 3/4, pp. 311-327. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090560610648075

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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