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Explaining industrial importers' commitment from an emerging market perspective: theoretical and managerial insights

M. Abu Saleh (Faculty of Business & Government, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia)
M. Yunus Ali (School of Business, Monash University, Malaysia Campus, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Syed Saad Andaleeb (Sam & Irene Black School of Business, Penn State Erie, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 16 January 2014



This study seeks to provide insights concerning the predictors of industrial importers' commitment to their foreign suppliers in a relationship paradigm involving an emerging market.


Integrating a review of the relevant importer-exporter and distributor-supplier relationship literature, a model of importer commitment was developed. Based on survey data obtained from industrial importers for an emerging market, CFA and SEM were employed to test the proposed theoretical model.


The findings significantly support the theoretical framework and most of the hypothesized path relationships in the model. Predictors such as importers' knowledge significantly and positively influenced commitment through the intermediation of trust, supplier opportunism had a significant and negative effect on importer commitment, again through the intermediation of trust, and transaction-specific investment had a direct effect on industrial importers' commitment. Supplier's opportunistic inclinations did not have a significant direct effect on the commitment of the importers.

Research limitations/implications

This research only considers the views of industrial importers that limits generalization. The sample size, constrained by the total number of industrial importers in the country examined, was also somewhat of a limiting factor concerning SEM modeling.

Practical implications

This study suggests the factors that export managers need to consider in maintaining long-term relationship with their foreign buyers, while contributing to building the relationship through knowledge sharing and curbing opportunistic inclinations.


This paper examines the antecedents of trust and commitment in industrial importer and foreign supplier relationships in the context of an emerging market. Based on the earlier literature on B2B exchanges, the role of importers' knowledge in driving commitment through the intermediation of trust offers new insights. This is particularly important because the importers are experiencing unprecedented growth opportunities. Considering their need to make decisions quickly and gain advantages from suppliers, will they remain committed to a particular supplier? Or will their commitment be strengthened by gaining knowledge of the supplier? The tested model offers unique insights.



Received 2 September 2011 Revised 4 October 2012 Accepted 4 October 2012


Abu Saleh, M., Yunus Ali, M. and Saad Andaleeb, S. (2014), "Explaining industrial importers' commitment from an emerging market perspective: theoretical and managerial insights", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 45-62.



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