The bonding effects of relationship value and switching costs in industrial buyer-seller relationships: an investigation into role differences
Despite the established importance of buyer-seller relationships on B-to-B markets, research to determine the differential effects that keep suppliers and customers in a relationship has been scarce. Referring to transaction cost analysis, this study investigates how switching costs and relationship value as perceived by each side unfold their bonding forces in such a relationship. Based on a large scale survey among marketing/sales and purchasing managers, the study shows that relationship value has a stronger impact on intentions for relationship enhancement, search for alternatives and switch intention than switching costs for both buyers and sellers. Only with regard to relational tolerance and only for buyers do switching costs play a greater role than relationship value. Furthermore, buyers base their future relationship intentions more on the current state of the relationship than suppliers. Our results suggest that role differences must be taken into account when studying institutional arrangements in B-to-B markets.