Robert Palmatier, assistant professor of marketing and Evert McCabe Faculty Fellow at the Michael G. Foster School of Business, has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Harold H. Maynard Award. The award recognizes one Journal of Marketing article each year for its significant contribution to marketing theory and thought.
Palmatier was selected for the award for his article “Interfirm Relational Drivers of Customer Value,” which appeared in the July 2008 issue of Journal of Marketing. Noting that 20 years of relationship marketing research has focused on the positive effect of strong customer relationships, Palmatier poses a critical question. What other attributes or mechanisms, in addition to relationship quality (trust, commitment), can account for relationship marketing’s effect on performance?
Using social network and exchange theory, Palmatier developed a new multidimensional model for examining business-to-business relationships. He found that while relationship quality plays an integral role in the value generated by interfirm relationships, so do the breadth of contacts, the decision-making authority of contacts, and the synergy among all three characteristics.
Palmatier says, “Most importantly, measuring, understanding, and building interfirm relationships require a multidimensional theoretical perspective. Depending on the specific context and the marketing objective of the seller, different relational dimensions are most critical at improving performance.”
For example, successfully selling new products to customers requires sellers to increase the diversity and authority of their contact portfolio. Alternatively, to maintain and grow sales at businesses with high employee turnover the largest return is realized from expanding the breadth of the contact portfolio to mitigate the loss of relational ties and speed relational recovery.
Interestingly, the research suggests the contacts that are the most difficult to access and deal with may be the most valuable, whereas customers that are easy to access may generate the lowest returns. Thus, busy salespeople making their rounds to their favorite customers (who are often open to meetings and easy to deal with) might be able to enhance performance by shifting their resources to firms or contacts that are more difficult to access.
“Overall, interfirm relationships represent a complex web of interconnections that requires a more fine-grained and strategic approach than is typically utilized in academia and practice,” reports Palmatier.
The Maynard Award will be presented to Palmatier at the American Marketing Association’s 2009 Winter Marketing Educators’ Conference to be held February 20-23, in Tampa, Florida.
For more information, contact Palmatier at 206-543-4348 or email@example.com.