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Guest editorial: relationship marketing – past, present and future

Johanna Gummerus (Department of Marketing, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)
Catharina von Koskull (Department of Marketing, University of Vaasa, Helsinki, Finland)
Christian Kowalkowski (Department of Marketing, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 13 February 2017




In a time when relationships have been recognized as an integral part of contemporary marketing theory and practice, what role can the sub-discipline of relationship marketing play? The aim with this special issue is to critically assess the state of relationship marketing and call for new ideas to take the field forward.


The editors had an open call for papers with an original perspective and advanced thinking on relationship marketing, resulting in 50 originally submitted manuscripts that were subjected to double-blind review. Of these, this issue presents five articles. In addition, the editors invited well-renowned thought leaders who have contributed to theory development within relationship marketing. This issue starts with their four thoughtful, forward-orientated contributions.


Several thought-provoking reflections and research findings are presented that urge relationship marketing researchers to explore novel avenues for the future of this area. A prominent way forward may be looking for a common ground in relationship marketing thinking, assessing the extent to which the different literature streams add to marketing research and when they do not and testing/deploying the learnings in new settings.

Research limitations/implications

The special issue does not address all areas of relationship marketing research. Potential areas for future relationship marketing research are identified.


To assess existent knowledge of relationship marketing is needed to take the field forward.



The editors first thank all the authors for contributing their fine work to this special section. They also extend their warmest thanks to their skilled reviewer panel; without their assistance, the editors would not have been able to complete this special issue. Finally, the editors are grateful to the Editors of Journal of Services Marketing, Steve Baron and Rebekah Russell-Bennett, for supporting them and their special issue, “Relationship marketing in services: past or future?”.


Gummerus, J., von Koskull, C. and Kowalkowski, C. (2017), "Guest editorial: relationship marketing – past, present and future", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 1-5.



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