Assessing relationship quality in four business-to-business markets

Bahar ASHNAI, Maria SMIRNOVA*, Sergei KOUCHTCH, Qionglei YU, Bradley R. BARNES, Peter NAUDÉ

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of what constitutes relationship quality in four different countries. The paper shows which attributes are important in assessing relationship quality and how they vary in importance among countries.

Conjoint analysis was used to derive how managers trade‐off different attributes of relationship quality. These attributes were: the levels of trust in the relationship, the understanding of each others' needs, the integration of systems between the two companies, the use or abuse of power, and the profit resulting from the interactions. Cluster analysis was used to classify the respondents in order to check if the overall results were indicative of a general consensus among the managers concerned, or alternatively if there were different perspectives on what constituted good quality relationship.

Whilst the routes to develop relationships may vary between different countries, the attributes which make up relationships are also likely to be valued differently in various places around the world.

Research limitations/implications:
Conjoint analysis questions are difficult to answer; making it difficult to have large sample sizes. However, further studies should try to consider increasing the sample size.

Practical implications:
The paper shows that there are indeed differences between what it is that managers seek from the relationships that they have to manage: but while noting certain national traits that seem to dominate within particular cultures, there is still variance in the individual datasets, pointing to the fact that managers have to manage their portfolio of relationships in an individual way.

This is the first study that compares the importance of relationship quality within and between four counties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-102
Number of pages17
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Business-to-business marketing
  • China
  • Cluster analysis
  • Iran
  • Russia
  • United Kingdom


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