An analysis of B2B relationship quality among Iranian managers

The phase relationship marketing has recently received a great deal of attention from both academics and practitioners. Interaction theory has emphasized the importance of relationships in business-to-business markets. For many firms it is important to develop relationships. To create a successful relationship is the goal of relationship development. Obstacles make businesses unwilling to change business suppliers or customers. Because of benefits of stability businesses look for successful long-term relationships. Therefore, factors that seem to lead to a successful relationship should be found.

The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of what counts as a “good” or “poor” quality relationship, what are the characteristic attributes of a good relationship, how they might vary in importance and whether they vary between countries.

Based on literature the constructs of relationship quality were selected. These attributes are:

The extent to which there is trust between the two parties
The extent to which the two parties understand each other’s needs
The extent to which the business systems of the two parties are well integrated
The extent to which power is equally shared between the two parties
The extent to which relationships yield a profitable outcome for companies

Conjoint analysis was used to derive how Iranian managers trade off different attributes of relationship quality. Considering the overall results, the most important attribute was profit followed by trust and power. But the overall results were not indicative of a general consensus. There were some situations observed that the perception of relationship quality varied significantly from the majority. This clearly showed that each relationship needs to be studied based on its own nature. There can be some other factors that influence the constructs of relationship quality.

This research involved collecting data on the importance of a set of attributes from Iranian managers. This is then compared with data from a previous study of UK managers. Profitability of a relationship was considered by many of the Iranian and English managers. The majority of Iranian managers were concerned about their relationship profitability more than English managers. In our studied sample almost all Iranian valued profit as an important attribute more or less. Trust was also important in both samples of Iranian and English managers, which was in track with literature of relationships. In our sample power was among influential attributes that construct relationship success, whereas in UK, power was reported as the least important attribute. Integration in both English and Iranian managers’ perceptions appeared to gain little importance. Overally, understanding of needs was among important attributes of English managers, whereas it did not seem to be very important for Iranian managers. Still there were few Iranian managers who considered this construct as the most important construct of relationship quality.

Author: Ashnai, Bahar

Source: Luleå University of Technology

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