The process of evaluating business to business relationships facing dissolution: An SME owner manager perspective

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Focusing on the Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) sector, this paper presents the owner manager (OM) process of evaluating business to business (B2B) relationships facing dissolution. Although research has brought new insights to the dissolution of relationships, few researchers have empirically examined how B2B relationships facing dissolution could be evaluated with a view to changing the negative state of the relationship into a positive one. Using SME OM experiences of evaluating relationships facing dissolution, the purpose of this paper is to extend dissolution research through the use of the critical incident technique to explore and interpret the OM evaluation process. The findings extracted from fifty-one critical incidents recounted by twenty-five OMs suggest that the OMs evaluation of B2B relationships facing dissolution is a dynamic process where OMs evaluate both past interactions and anticipated future interactions in the context of the state of the relationship before the critical incident occurs. These evaluations concentrate on relationship closeness, current and future relationship rewards and costs and relationship performance. During the process of evaluation OMs consider the relative state of the relationship: close relationships are those where mutual cooperation at interpersonal and B2B levels' is nurtured whereas arms-length relationships are those where satisfaction, trust and commitment is low. Depending on these different relationship states, the evaluation produces different outcomes regarding the OM's evaluation of past interactions and on the future of the relationship. If the outcome is that future interactions are expected to result in a positive net value to the SME OM, the relationship continues. In contrast where the evaluation outcome is a negative net value, the dissolution of the relationships proceeds now or in the future. The key contribution of this paper is that this is the first documented exploration and interpretation of the OM evaluation process when facing the dissolution of a B2B relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2016


  • Business to business relationships
  • Dissolution
  • Evaluating relationships
  • Owner managers
  • Repair
  • SMEs


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