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Network strength, transaction‐specific investments, inter‐personal trust, and relationship satisfaction in Chinese agri‐food SMEs

Hualiang Lu (School of Business Administration, Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, Nanjing, China)
Shuyi Feng (College of Public Administration, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China)
Jacques H. Trienekens (Management Studies Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands)
S.W.F. Omta (Management Studies Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 31 August 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of network strength, transaction‐specific investments and inter‐personal trust on business relationship satisfaction for small‐and‐medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in agri‐food processing and exporting in China.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data collected from 80 agri‐food SMEs in Jiangsu Province were used for empirical testing. The authors applied an ordered logit regression approach for model estimation.

Findings

The results demonstrate that strong guanxi networks, high level of transaction‐specific investments and inter‐personal trust significantly contribute to a high level of relationship satisfaction for agri‐food SMEs in China. In addition, inter‐personal trust shows a moderating effect on the relationship between transaction‐specific investments and relationship satisfaction.

Practical implications

Business relationships play a critical role in the modern market environment. Relational arrangements (based on guanxi and inter‐personal trust) should be further enhanced in order to yield satisfied business relationships for SMEs in China.

Originality/value

The paper extends our understanding of relationship (guanxi) marketing, as well as marketing practices for agri‐food SMEs in China.

Keywords

Citation

Lu, H., Feng, S., Trienekens, J.H. and Omta, S.W.F. (2012), "Network strength, transaction‐specific investments, inter‐personal trust, and relationship satisfaction in Chinese agri‐food SMEs", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 363-378. https://doi.org/10.1108/17561371211263374

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited