Transforming partner relationships through technological innovation

Alex R. Zablah (Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Wesley J. Johnston (Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Danny N. Bellenger (Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To develop and propose a conceptual model that explains why downstream channel members (e.g. retailers) are likely to adopt or resist the implementation of emerging partner relationship management (PRM) technologies by their channel counterparts (i.e. suppliers).


The conceptual model is grounded in organizational innovation theory and utilizes select case examples to support posited relationships.


Resellers' level of commitment to new PRM tools deployed by suppliers is likely to be driven by their perception of the technology's impact on the equity (i.e. fairness) and efficiency (i.e. cost) of existing channel relationships. In turn, resellers' perceptions about the equity and efficiency implications of PRM technology adoption are expected to be influenced by several factors, including: environmental factors, suppliers' choice of influence strategies and the characteristics of the exchange relationship.

Research limitations/implications

Aside from offering several testable propositions, the paper also raises various questions that are worthy of investigation, such as: To what extent (if at all) do boundary‐spanning technologies alter the basic nature of channel relationships? Can the deployment of PRM tools simultaneously lead to both greater channel conflict and coordination? Do differences in reseller commitment result when different implementation partners (i.e. third‐party software firms) handle the deployment of the technology across geographic regions?


The paper builds on the inter‐organizational concepts of equity and efficiency to offer a new perspective on the adoption of boundary‐spanning technologies in a channel setting.



Zablah, A., Johnston, W. and Bellenger, D. (2005), "Transforming partner relationships through technological innovation", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 355-363.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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