Research on how social bonding between boundary spanners influences relationship outcomes in business-to-business (B2B) settings is sparse and controversial. This longitudinal study aims to close this gap and assess the impact of social bonding on the share of wallet and actual cross-buying behaviour.
B2B relationships between a manufacturer of light commercial vehicles and its customers were investigated. A random sample of fleet managers answered two telephone surveys.
Social bonding was found to affect both investigated relationship outcomes, share of wallet and cross-buying, through the generation of trust over and above the customer’s perceptions of value.
Only one product category was investigated in this study, and further research should explore boundary conditions for the relevance of social bonding in B2B.
Social bonding represents one lever (next to value perceptions) for building a competitive advantage in a B2B context. Relationship marketing activities that are intended to strengthen the development of social bonds between customers and account managers should be encouraged.
The authors provide clear evidence regarding the disputed impact of social bonding between boundary spanners on relationship outcomes in B2B relationships by testing its impact on real purchase behaviour and not only purchase intentions, as is the case in most published studies to date.
Paulssen, M. and Roulet, R. (2017), "Social bonding as a determinant of share of wallet and cross-buying behaviour in B2B relationships", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 No. 5/6, pp. 1011-1028. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-07-2014-0433
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