Handbook of Research on Distribution Channels
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Handbook of Research on Distribution Channels

Edited by Charles A. Ingene, James R. Brown and Rajiv P. Dant

Distribution channels are the most complex element of the marketing mix to fully grasp and to profitably manage. In this Handbook the authors present cutting-edge research on channel management and design from analytical, conceptual, and empirical perspectives. The breadth of this Handbook makes it appropriate for use in a doctoral course on distribution channels, or as a knowledge-broadening resource for faculty and researchers who wish to understand types of channels research that are outside the scope of their own approach to distribution.
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Chapter 13: Relationship dynamics: understanding continuous and discontinuous relationship change

Colleen M. Harmeling and Robert W. Palmatier


Relationships evolve over time, through encounters between exchange partners. Life cycle theories of relationship development that dominate marketing literature describe this evolution as a continuous process, in which repeated interactions and strategic efforts build incrementally on a stable history between the exchange partners. However, relationships can undergo dramatic shifts in trajectory that are important to performance and a single exchange encounter can have critical effects on this transformation process. This chapter explores both continuous and discontinuous relationship development. The authors start by identifying three underlying dynamic relationship constructs – trust, commitment, and exchange partner identification – and their importance in relational exchanges. They then review research on continuous (i.e., life cycle theories) and discontinuous (i.e., turning point theories) relationship changes, thereby specifying their unique drivers, underlying mechanisms, and impact on key relationship constructs. Finally, the authors discuss strategies for building and recovering relationships, based on both life cycle and turning point theories.

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