Date of Award

Winter 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration-Marketing

Committee Director

John B. Ford

Committee Member

Edward Markowski

Committee Member

Yuping Liu


The benefits from having long–term relationships with customers have become a focal topic and have been widely discussed in the marketing literature (Dwyer, Schurr and Oh 1987; Reichheld and Sasser 1990; Reichheld 1993; Morgan and Hunt 1994; Walter, Ritter and Gemuden 2001). However, careful review of the literature indicates that the literature is deficient in several ways: (1) relational benefits are mostly examined in term of economic benefits, especially in b2b and channel distribution contexts, (2) there is limited number of studies examining cost dimensions, (3) there is lack of studies examines both benefits and costs from dyadic perspective (i.e. data collected from both sides of the relationship—buyers and sellers), and (4) little is known about the interactions between relationship benefits/costs with other important relational construct, e.g. relationship commitment.

In light with these problems, we need a systematic framework (Walter, Ritter, and Gemunden 2001), which should not only examine relational benefits and cost from a dyadic perspective, but also investigate the interactions between relational benefits and costs with other important relational constructs such as relationship commitment. Building and testing this kind of framework, thus, is the major purpose of this research.

Four studies, two qualitative and two quantitative, were conducted in Hochiminh City, Vietnam, to test the proposed framework. The result shows that there are four groups of benefits that buyers and sellers expect to have from long-term relationships: economic benefits, social benefits, confidence benefits and informational benefits. Relationships, however, are not without costs. Maintenance costs including time, efforts, and resources are major type of costs that buyers and sellers are facing in long-term relationships. Both relational benefits and costs strongly impacted the commitment in the relationship, but in opposite directions. While relational benefits positively impacted commitment, relational costs negatively impacted commitment. Study limitations, managerial implications, and recommendations for future research are also presented.





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