A large number of researchers and marketing textbooks see business marketing dominantly from the relationship marketing perspective. One can even talk about a “matrimony” of these domains; “RM=BM”. The Contemporary Marketing Practices studies, however, provide clear evidence of the coexistence of various marketing practices but offer no supporting theoretical rationale for these findings. The purpose of this paper is to answer the question whether business marketing and relationship marketing, when broadly defined to include all relational‐interactional perspectives, are necessarily wedded to each other.
A metatheoretical analysis was conducted to identify the contributions and limitations of the current research approaches to business marketing and a configurational approach for marketing (CAM) was developed, providing theoretical explanation for the empirical findings versus relationship dominance dilemma.
The metatheoretical analysis showed that research into business marketing relationships is not monolithic; that each tradition is useful for specific purposes, domains and activities; and that none helps understand why there are multiple ways in which firms relate to their markets. A conceptual CAM framework was developed that allows one to identify possible configurational marketing profiles (i.e. identifying different equivalently valid ways of relating to a business environment).
It is contended that the configuration approach for marketing permits other configurations to co‐exist beyond the RM‐BM matrimony. CAM provides a conceptual framework that can host the “puzzling” empirical results of the contemporary marketing practices studies.
The CAM frame suggests that managers should carefully examine the internal logic of their marketing‐related configuration. Performance should be enhanced if the three elements – managerial frame of reference, organization/environment relationship, marketing mode – are coherent.
The configurational approach for marketing helps one to understand why firms relate to the business marketing environment with a multiplicity of marketing modes, showing that the BM‐RM matrimony is but one possible configuration.
Pels, J., Möller, K. and Saren, M. (2009), "Do we really understand business marketing? Getting beyond the RM and BM matrimony", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 24 No. 5/6, pp. 322-336. https://doi.org/10.1108/08858620910966219Download as .RIS
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