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Key‐account‐management in business markets: an empirical test of common assumptions

Björn Sven Ivens (Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Catherine Pardo (EM Lyon, Ecully, France)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 13 June 2008




The concept of key account management (KAM) has received considerable attention from practitioners and scholars for well over 20 years now. However, numerous articles build on a set of tacit assumptions for which we lack empirical evidence. This paper seeks to propose an empirical test of several of these assumptions.


The contribution draws on a study conducted among 297 purchasing managers in two industries (packaging goods, market research data).


The findings indicate that parts of the foundations of KAM are not as solid as they may appear at first sight.

Practical implications

This paper invites managers of KAM programs to carefully consider the objectives they assign to such programs by integrating the idea of value created both for key customers and for suppliers implementing such programs.


The paper extends knowledge of key account management in the business field by providing new – and, in the light of the extant literature, sometimes rather counter‐intuitive – insights in this important management phenomenon. It does this by systematically comparing key account relationships and non‐key account relationships.



Sven Ivens, B. and Pardo, C. (2008), "Key‐account‐management in business markets: an empirical test of common assumptions", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 301-310.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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