Understanding value in B2B buyer-seller relationships: do matching expectations improve relationship strength?

Konhäuser, Andreas
Krafft, Manfred
Marshall, Roger
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

A typical problem with relationship management in a B2B environment is that implementing companies often see the relationship only from their own perspective. In other words, the supplier decides which customer is worth treating as a key customer, without involving the customer in this decision, or vice versa. As a result, even resource-consuming key account customers might move to competitors if they do not value the relationship in the same way as the supplier and see an opportunity to save costs by switching sources. This study develops a better understanding of value in B2B relationships. It investigates the segmentation methods currently used in relationship management and develops a new approach that brings the value perspectives from buyer and seller together. The major contribution of the research, however, is to test the proposition that congruency of the value expectations of buyer and seller will optimize the relationship strength.In the literature there seem two general approaches, the hard and the soft. This research combines these measures to form a single, cohesive measurement of congruency of relationship value, from the perspective of both partners in the relationship. There is a lacuna in the burgeoning literature on relationship management, where trust is often inadequately represented in the research, and where reciprocity of value between relationship partners is often omitted. This research addresses this critical, yet under-researched, issue. It also provides a useful, practical, guide to companies desirous of setting up strong relationships with other organizations by explaining the importance of soft value measures and focusing on shared value expectations in these relationships.The quantitative survey was conducted among buyers and sellers in small and medium sized companies in Germany that are operating on an international level. The empirical results strongly support the research thesis. Implications for theory and practice are provided as well as recommendations for further research.

Relationship marketing , Value , B2B , Buyer-seller relationships , Relationship strength , Konhauser
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