The Meaning and Impact of Respect in the Context of Business-to-Business Marketing Relationships
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In the field of marketing, there is anecdotal evidence that “respect” is an important determinant of marketing relationship success (e.g., Berry 1996; Bitran and Hoech 1990; Costley, Friend, and Babis 2005). The current relational paradigm that guides much of marketing research, thinking, and practice implies that marketing involves not only exchange between organizations and customers, but also relationships between people. Given this context, individual-level relationship variables such as respect become important to our understanding of relationship marketing as a whole. Yet, in marketing and in other relevant fields (e.g., social and organizational psychology, ethics, education), there is no agreement as to how respect should be defined, and there is no measure that captures the complexity of this construct. In order to gain a more complete understanding of the reasons why certain marketing relationships succeed or fail, it is important to investigate the role of respect. The purpose of this research is to gain an understanding of (1) what respect means in the context of business-to-business marketing relationships, and (2) how respect impacts on the outcomes of those relationships. Following an extensive review of literature from a number of fields, the empirical research took place over four studies. In the first study, seventeen elite (in-depth) interviews were conducted with marketing practitioners. The goal of the interviews was to come to a more complete understanding of the importance of respect, its definition and dimensionality, its key features, and its role in the success of marketing relationships. As a result of these seventeen interviews, a preliminary model of respect was developed. In the second study, five additional marketing practitioners were interviewed in order to gain feedback on the proposed model of respect. Study 3 was aimed at developing a measure of respect to be included in later model testing; a key activity in this phase was an expert analysis of respect items. This research culminated in study 4, where the model of respect was tested via an experiment involving 114 business and marketing practitioners.