Edited by Charles A. Ingene, James R. Brown and Rajiv P. Dant
Chapter 13: Relationship dynamics: understanding continuous and discontinuous relationship change
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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