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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Marketing strategy Sponsored by European Journal of Marketing
Article Type: The 2007 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards From: European Journal of Marketing, Volume 42, Issue 7/8.
Dulekha Kasturiratne was the winner of the 2007 Marketing Strategy Award, sponsored by the European Journal of Marketing, for her thesis entitled “Value, relationships and competitive advantage in the Sri Lankan tea industry.” Her doctoral degree was awarded at Imperial College London (University of London), supervised by Dr Nigel Poole. She is now working as a Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Plymouth, UK. Here is an abstract of her award winning research:
Value, relationships and competitive advantage in the Sri Lankan tea industry
Relationship marketing has become a major element of competitive strategies in many consumer goods industries in the last twenty years. Firms in commodity markets are alsobecoming increasingly aware of the limitations of arms-length exchanges and of the benefits of more co-operative relationships. This study analyses how buyer-seller relationships serve as a valuable organisational resource within the commodity sector the international tea industry whereby firms can achieve competitive advantage which is long-term andinimitable.
The focus is on the exchanges between Sri Lankan exporters and UK importers. The conceptual framework is derived from the literature and insights from exploratory research,and utilises relationship quality measures such as trust, commitment, power, interaction and social bonds to investigate the types of exchange. The research takes a novel perspective by introducing the concept of relationship value-creation for the buyers and sellers. Primary data from Sri Lanka and the UK included in-depth, face-to-face interviews of key industry informants which were analysed using a qualitative case-study approach.
The results identified the complex nature of business relationships which defy simple polar conception of being either transactional or relational. Good information and communication, high levels of interaction and social bonds were found to strengthen the quality of the relationships. Specific benefits of such relationships were identified as difficult for competitors to duplicate, thus creating strategic value and longer-term competitive advantage for both the buyer and seller. The study also identified the roles of compatibility, synergy and synchronicity in business relationships.