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Relationship Marketing Strategies: When Buyer and Supplier Follow Different Strategies to Achieve Performance

Keywords: relationship marketing strategy , trust , information , transaction specific investments , joint action , business networks.

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Relationship marketing is essential for success in business. The need to understand better the differences in the strategies buyers and suppliers follow is what has motivated this study. We drew on emerging perspectives on inter-firm governance and networks to develop a theoretical framework to understand the success of long-term relationships. We tested the framework using data from 67 merchant distributors (buyers) and 174 suppliers of theirs in the Dutch potted plant and flower industry. While the most successful distributors tend to take the “hard”, tangible strategy using transaction specific investments and fostering joint action, the successful suppliers take the “soft”, social approach by emphasizing trust and the norm of flexibility in the relationship.


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