Edited by Gary L. Lilien and Rajdeep Grewal
Joshua T. Beck and Robert W. Palmatier Relationship marketing (RM), in both business practice and academic research, has received ever increasing attention, in line with the belief that strong buyer–seller relationships enhance exchange performance (Palmatier et al. 2006b). Although relationships exist in both B2B and B2C exchanges, the interdependent nature of B2B trade makes RM in this sphere most critical. As the number of exchange partners increases, as the transactions become faster paced and as the situation grows more uncertain, relationships become increasingly important as means to secure business partners and protect against business risk. In support of this notion most developed countries have undergone dramatic shifts toward service economies; services now account for more than 80 per cent of US gross domestic product (Libai et al. 2009). Compared with products, services are less tangible, less consistent, more perishable and harder to evaluate, and they often require co-production (Zeithaml et al. 1985). Despite the difficulties associated with delivering and assessing services, B2B firms increasingly incorporate them into their value proposition to stabilize their cash flows (Lohr 2010). Xerox, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Cisco all have recently announced the acquisition or expansion of their service offerings (Lohr 2010). Because of the complexities associated with services, strong relationships that maximize trust and knowledge transfer are integral to the success of this type of offering. At the same time, advances in technology have pushed the use of relationship marketing. Many technology-supported initiatives, such as total quality management, demand close relationships with suppliers and...
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