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The dynamics of relationship marketing in international sponsorship networks

Joe B. Cobbs (Haile/US Bank College of Business, Northern Kentucky University, Newport, Kentucky, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




While various scholars have identified relationship marketing objectives as a rationale for sports sponsorship engagement, analytic investigations of the implications of a relational approach to the corporate sponsorship network have been slow to materialize. The purpose of this paper is to advance the discussion of sponsorship as a means of industrial sports marketing towards a network conceptualization, which can be dissected from both the perspective of the sponsoring firms and that of the sponsored enterprise.


This paper employs an illustrative case‐based approach to the application of network analysis tools as a means of exploring the relationship marketing dynamics of corporate sponsorship portfolios.


Several research propositions and applicable network analytics are presented within the context of Formula One racing team sponsorship portfolios. The concepts of network range, density, power, growth, and social capital are explored in regards to their influence on network actors and prospective actors.

Practical implications

Though often neglected in sponsorship research, B2B relational objectives are the focus of this paper, where various evaluative methods are suggested and their dynamic implications illustrated.


By utilizing an international contextual case and explicating several analytic network measures, this research extends the investigation of sports sponsorship beyond the image and awareness‐based objectives that have dominated this area of research. This application of social network analysis to the study of inter‐organizational networks in sport builds on the discussion of sponsorship as a bilateral relationship and advances the dialog towards a broader exploration of corporate sponsors and sport enterprises as network partners.



Cobbs, J.B. (2011), "The dynamics of relationship marketing in international sponsorship networks", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 8, pp. 590-601.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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