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Account manager turnover and the influence of context: an exploratory study

Mario Vafeas (Department of Marketing, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 3 February 2015




The purpose of this study is to investigate the contextual factors that influence the impact of account manager turnover on the client–agency relationship, an under-researched area of relationship management literature.


A case study approach and one-to-one interviews are used to conduct the exploratory study, analysing client–agency relationships within the UK design industry. A conceptual framework covering individual and organisational characteristics is used to examine the contextual factors impacting account manager turnover.


The findings identify both organisational and individual contextual factors that influence the outcome of turnover. Categorized into three core contexts (client-specific knowledge, multiple relationship ties and turnover process management), factors such as agency structure and culture, agency knowledge management policies and client experience were all found to impact on account manager turnover.

Research limitations/implications

This small, qualitative, exploratory study suggests the need for further research to investigate the transferability of the findings to a broader range of organisational types and industries and to highlight additional contextual factors that influence the impact of turnover.

Practical implications

Account manager turnover does not necessarily mean the end of the client–service firm relationship. Agencies can create contexts that mitigate the potential negative effects. Small firms appear to have advantages inherent in their size, but larger firms can take steps to emulate some of the conditions found in micro firms.


This paper adds to the limited number of studies into account manager turnover, making a theoretical and practical contribution, enabling marketing managers to take steps to ensure staff turnover does not result in client switching.



Vafeas, M. (2015), "Account manager turnover and the influence of context: an exploratory study", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 72-82.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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