Over the past ten to 15 years, key account management (KAM) has established itself as an important and growing field of academic study and as a major issue for practitioners. Despite the use of strategic intent in conceptualizing KAM relationship types, the role of strategic intent has not previously been empirically tested. This paper aims to address this issue
This paper reports on inductive research that used a dyadic methodology and difference modelling to examine nine key account relationship dyads involving 18 companies. This is supplemented with 13 semi-structured interviews with key account managers from a further 13 companies, which provides additional depth of understanding of the drivers of KAM relationship type.
The research found a misalignment of strategic intent between supplier and customer, which suggested that strategic intent is unrelated to relationship type. In contrast, key buyer/supplier relationships were differentiated not by the level of strategic fit or intent, but by contact structure and differentiated service.
This research showed that there can be stable key account relationships even where there is an asymmetry of strategic interests. The findings also have practical implications relating to the selection and management of key accounts.
These results raise questions relating to conceptualizations of such relationships, both in the classroom and within businesses.
Received 24 August 2010Revised 30 March 201128 July 2011Accepted 2 August 2011The authors would like to thank Beth Rogers (Portsmouth Business School) and Lindsay Bruce and Maya Berger (Cranfield) for their assistance with this research, and Professor Hugh Wilson (Cranfield) for his comments on an earlier draft of this paper. The research was funded by the Cranfield KAM Best Practice Research Club.
J. Ryals, L. and A. Davies, I. (2013), "Where's the strategic intent in key account relationships?", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 111-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/08858621311295254Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited