Although many authors examine relationships, few attempt to classify alternative structures. In this research a relationship strength construct is developed to distinguish among alternative relationship structures based on a key mediating variable set derived from an assessment of the dominant behavior process and economic content variables underlying important buyer-seller relationships. Results using a cluster analysis procedure based on a sample of 200 industrial company respondents from the UK engineering, electronic and telecommunications sectors support the classification. This allows us to discriminate between four relationship structures in main buyer-supplier relationships, which are labeled: bilateral, recurrent, dominant partner, and discrete. Such a classification can provide managers with a mechanism for analyzing and planning for the development of their inter-firm relationships.
- Business-to-business marketing
- Channel relations
- Industrial marketing
- Relationship marketing