The purpose of this paper is to apply an economic sociology perspective to the activity–resource–actor (ARA) interaction model for business relationships. Interaction has been chosen as a conceptual domain where economic sociology has a particularly high potential to advance business-to-business (B2B) marketing in terms of its future research directions.
The paper provides a structured account of economic sociology through the description of eight key economic sociology concepts and discussion of the structuration theory. This is followed by an overview of the usage of the eight key economic sociology concepts in current B2B marketing research, and concludes with outlining eight specific future research directions which guide future research on interaction in business relationships.
Eight economic sociology concepts are identified: embeddedness, networks, institutions, power, social capital, identity, social structures and cognition. An overview of the application of these constructs within the B2B marketing literature shows how most of them are used as metaphors with a gap in understanding their economic sociology background.
Future research directions are described individually, do not include potential interaction effects and are developed within the ARA interaction model framework. Given the conceptual nature of the paper, it does not provide any empirical data and illustrations related to any of the eight key economic sociology concepts.
The paper answers a call for a wider integration of economic sociology into the B2B marketing literature. It provides a systematic eight-concept economic sociology framework to be used by B2B marketing theorists and researchers. The paper finishes with eight concrete future research directions through which an economic sociology perspective can help advance B2B marketing theory and business relationship management practice. A brief discussion of managerial implications is also provided at the end.
The work on this paper was made possible by a six-month graduate visiting fellowship at Harvard University, FAS Sociology, for which the author would especially like to thank Professor Peter V. Marsden (Harvard University, FAS Sociology) and Professor Anuška Ferligoj (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences). The research on this paper was further facilitated during a research visit at Shanghai University of International Business & Economics in China as a visiting scholar. The author would also like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on how to improve this paper.
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