Is the seven-year hitch premature in industrial markets?

Bradley R. BARNES*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The paper reports on an exploratory study aimed at analysing a series of independent variables derived from international industrial marketing and channel management literature. 

Design/methodology/approach - The respondents represent a number of dyadic business-to-business relationships of different duration, and involve firms of different size (multinational enterprise buyers and their corresponding medium sized enterprise suppliers). 

Findings - Initial findings support much of the extant literature on relationship marketing, demonstrating that certain aspects of a relationship tend to change over time. In particular, the study revealed that: there is a high degree of optimism associated with dyadic relationships at early stages, and these are characterised by both parties having high initial perceptions of the relationship; in mid-term relationships some negativity maybe apparent, where certain aspects regress; and in long-term situations, there is a tendency for relationships to be well structured, and these are particularly highly perceived among both exchange parties. 

Research limitations/implications - The research approach shares those benefits as well as limitations associated with earlier empirical investigations. That is a trade-off in favour of undertaking dyadic exploration, than administering large samples and data sets. As a consequence of the sample size, some caution should be exercised when interpreting these findings. 

Practical implications - Firms need to pay particular attention to relationships of differing time duration. This is because specific aspects of relationships may not develop in a uniform direction. 

Originality/value - The research attempts to unravel the complexities and difficulties associated with obtaining data of a dyadic perspective for a significant number of relationships of different length. Such studies that map the evolvement of buyer-seller relations over time are rare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-584
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number5-6
Early online date1 May 2005
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Business-to-business marketing
  • Relationship marketing


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