Understanding the process of Repair in dissolving Business to Business Relationships: An SME perspective

Fleming, Deirdre (2014) Understanding the process of Repair in dissolving Business to Business Relationships: An SME perspective. PhD thesis, Waterford Institute of Technology.

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Abstract

Despite considerable research examining the dissolution of business to business (B2B) relationships, studies exploring the repair of these relationships have been insufficiently explored empirically. To date most B2B dissolution research has focussed attention on the reasons why relationships end (Farrelly, 2010; Pressey & Selassie, 2007; Hocutt, 1998; Halinen, 1997; Keaveney, 1995; Perrien, Paradis & Richard, 1995), or other influencing factors (Olkkonen & Tuominen, 2006; Wang et al, 2004; Hallen & Johansen, 2004; Vaaland, 2004), or the processes of dissolution (Halinen & Tähtinen , 2002; Giller & Matear, 2001; Ping & Dwyer, 1992), or the strategies for disengagement (Pressey & Mathews, 2002; Alajoutisjarvi, Moller & Tähtinen , 2000; Baxter, 1979). However, there is scant attention given to the process of repair in troubled relationships and even less on the changes that take place to the state of the relationship (Dirks Lewicki & Zaheer, 2009). Moreover, the use of different types of strategies needed to repair the damage and the outcomes of the process have largely been ignored (Dirks et al, 2009; Salo, Tähtinen & Ulkiniemi, 2009). Thus, the research problem that emanated from the literature review which became the focus of this study was that there was very limited knowledge concerning the process of repair in B2B relationship dissolution. From a process perspective, a deeper understanding of the state of the relationship and the actions and reactions from individual Owner Managers (OMs) is needed (Dirks et al, 2009; Salo et al, 2009; Tähtinen et al, 2007). By developing a unifying theoretical framework, the research aids the analysis of the broader problem of relationship repair (Dirks et al, 2009) and the process approach presented identifies the underlying actions and reactions that occur during the repair of these troubled relationships. Using an interpretative philosophical position, a qualitative-methodological approach was designed (Creswell, 2007; Morgan & Smircich, 1980). The critical incident technique was adopted based upon interviews and reflective practice to explore the process of repair in greater detail from OM experiences in repaired or dissolved B2B relationships. The findings presented in this study illustrate the dynamic sub-processes inherent in repairing relationships in dissolution. The critical incident analysis supports the notion that the state of the relationship pre transgression coupled with the types of precipitating events that cause breakdown, have a large impact on the outcome of the repair process. Equally, the trajectory of the process is driven by the partners in the relationship as their reactions to dissatisfaction either push the relationship towards repair or initiate its dissolution. Since the research is concerned with understanding the process of repair in Irish SMEs, it draws upon the behavioural model of social exchange theory for its theoretical foundation. From the study, a theoretical framework has been developed and a number of important theoretical and managerial contributions arise. For example, the findings clearly indicate that the state of the relationship pre transgression has an impact on the repair process of B2B relationships in SMEs. The implication of this is that at a strategic level, SME owner managers need to understand the state of their B2B relationships and to classify them into those that are strong relationships based on satisfaction, trust and commitment and those that are weak and prone to dissolution. At a micro-level, in order to yield the most impact of OM involvement in relationship repair, the research provides practitioners with insight regarding the stages of the repair process including critical junctures that aid the process and its outcomes. The first point of reference is the understanding of the exact nature of precipitating events that cause breakdown, whether they were cognitive or behavioural. These events are highly contextualised within the pre state of the relationship and affect the trajectory of the process. The next critical turning point is the evaluation of these events and establishing a willingness to repair the damage which leads to a renegotiation of the relationship or its dissolution. This negotiation is underpinned by open communications, trust as a basis for repair and established interpersonal relationships. The output from the renegotiation process defines the types of strategies that are needed to repair cognitive or behavioural damage. Strategically OMs are also faced with situations where the outcomes of the repair process are either favourable where relations are strengthened or unfavourable where the relationship is still vulnerable to future dissolution. In addition to these theoretical and managerial implications, the research has also provided a contribution to theory through the expansion of the B2B dissolution and repair literature. For example how the relationship characteristics and the nature of the precipitating events influence the outcome of the repair process answers calls for research in this area (Salo et al, 2009). More empirical knowledge has been gained in relation to the use of different repair strategies required including cognitive, restoring the social order and structures to avoid issues arising again in the future (Dirks et al, 2009). As the focus of the research has taken a broader view of relationship repair, more empirical knowledge has been examined at a deeper level to understand the dynamic nature of the phenomenon (Dirks et al, 2009). To the researcher’s knowledge, this is the first attempt to capture the entire process from the beginning to its outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Business to business relationships
Departments or Groups: *NONE OF THESE*
Divisions: School of Business > Department of Management and Organization
Depositing User: Derek Langford
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2014 13:07
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:27
URI: http://repository.wit.ie/id/eprint/2973

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