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Buyer relationships when developing new products: a contingency model

Gerard A. Athaide (Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Jason Q. Zhang (Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Richard R. Klink (Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 6 December 2018

Issue publication date: 12 March 2019




The purpose of the paper is to develop and test a contingency model of buyer involvement when developing new products in technology-based industrial markets. Information Dissemination and degree of product co-development are identified as two behavioral dimensions of seller–buyer relationships. Further, the paper proposes that perceived buyer knowledge, innovation discontinuity, product customization and technological uncertainty moderate the impact of the behavioral dimensions on sellers’ relationship satisfaction.


The paper uses moderated regression on a data set of 296 small and mid-sized firms in a variety of high-tech industries to test relevant hypotheses.


The authors find that sellers can enhance relationship satisfaction by engaging in either unilateral or bilateral relationships. This is important because sellers have to be judicious in expending their relationship resources. While information dissemination is more satisfying when targeting less knowledgeable buyers, product co-development enhances satisfaction when targeting more knowledgeable buyers. Similarly, information dissemination can enhance satisfaction for discontinuous innovations; in contrast, product co-development has a similar outcome for customized products. However, when technological uncertainty is high, such co-development leads to reduced satisfaction.


Extant literature provides useful insights on the behavioral dimensions of seller–buyer relationships, the antecedents and consequences of such relationships and the stages of the new product development process when such relationships are more valuable. Despite this progress, important gaps remain in current understanding of seller–buyer relationships. In particular, findings regarding the contribution of relationships to desired outcomes are inconsistent. This suggests that important moderators of the relationship–outcomes link are being overlooked and warrant greater attention. This paper addresses this deficiency.



Athaide, G.A., Zhang, J.Q. and Klink, R.R. (2019), "Buyer relationships when developing new products: a contingency model", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 426-438.



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