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A cross-cultural perspective on relational exchange

Minna Jukka (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Tatiana Andreeva (School of Business, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland)
Kirsimarja Blomqvist (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Kaisu Puumalainen (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



This study aims to examine relational norms in cross-cultural business settings. Cross-cultural business partners may differ in their normative orientations toward relational exchange. Owing to the high extent of international trade, there is a need for developing a more nuanced understanding of cross-cultural relational exchange.


The repertory grid method was used to elicit the personal constructs characterizing the perceptions of business-to-business (B2B) relational exchange for 22 Russian and Finnish managers. These items were further categorized into categories of relational elements drawn from relational exchange literature using a content analysis. Then, the category means of scored importance and scored evaluations of domestic and foreign business partners were tested statistically.


Relational norms of flexibility, information exchange, long-term orientation, mutuality and solidarity were equally important to both Russian and Finnish managers. The importance of a business partner’s ability seems to be culturally dependent. Sharing the same cultural background might have an adverse effect when evaluating poorly functioning business relations.

Research limitations/implications

The validity of these findings is limited to this context and material. Future research should repeat cross-cultural comparisons of the relational norms with more data and other nationalities.

Practical implications

Firms should focus on long-term orientation and mutual targets to form well-functioning cross-cultural business relationships.


This study provides new knowledge into B2B marketing literature by revealing the role of relational norms, business partner’s ability and shared cultural background on functionality of cross-cultural business relations. It also demonstrates the use of the repertory grid method in studying perceptions of relational norms.



This work was funded by the Foundation for Economic Education (the Special Fund of Kari Kaarnalahti), and the Finnish Cultural Foundation (the Heikki Kellokoski Fund of the Kymenlaakso Regional Fund).


Jukka, M., Andreeva, T., Blomqvist, K. and Puumalainen, K. (2017), "A cross-cultural perspective on relational exchange", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 7, pp. 937-950.



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