The assessment of relationship value in service industries
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the applicability of Baxter and Matear’s (2004) intangible relationship value (IRV) model in service industries. This model attempts to characterise the nature of the intangible relationship value that flows through a business-to-business buyer-seller relationship from the seller’s perspective. However, the testing of that model has previously been restricted to the manufacturing sector (Baxter & Matear, 2004; Zhang, 2004). Considering the differences between the manufacturing and service sectors, it is necessary to examine the applicability of Baxter and Matear’s IRV model in service industries. As a part of the examination of the model, a literature review was first performed; it concluded that the IRV model has potential to be applied in service industries. As a second step in the examination of the model’s applicability, based on the data collected from 82 business service and consulting companies, an exploratory factor analysis found that the IRV in these companies was reflected in two dimensions: the human intangible relationship value and the structural intangible relationship value. The human intangible value was in turn reflected in three dimensions: competence, attitude, and intellectual agility. The structural intangible value was likewise reflected in two dimensions: relationships, and renewal and development. In addition, this intangible relationship value in service industries was confirmed to be associated with the future financial performance of the relationship. These findings indicate that the broad structure of the Baxter and Matear (2004) model was replicated in the service industries surveyed. However, one contrast in the current study with that of the Baxter and Matear model is that this study did not identify the “organization” dimension. Although this thesis has made a clear contribution to the marketing literature and provided some suggestions to managers in service industries, it has a few shortcomings. For example it had a small sample size, and did not evaluate the influence of time on relationship value. There is also some uncertainty concerning the reason for the lack of identification of the sixth value dimension, organization, which was clearly identified in studies in the manufacturing sector. Therefore, the applicability of the Baxter and Matear (2004) IRV model in the service sector needs to be further researched.