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Managing Distribution Relationships: Evidence from the Automotive Market
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Business & Economics, ISSN 1543-1614, Vol. 8, no 1, 235-253 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses the relationship between car manufacturers and dealers, focusing especially on power and trust as alternative but complementary relationship governance mechanisms. Previous research has identified casual-nexuses between relationship constructs showing that power and trust coexist as drivers of automaker-dealer relationships, leading respectively to compliant as opposed to collaborative behaviors of the dealer. Automakers can for instance boost dealer’s collaboration starting from a non-coercive approach that also induces affective commitment by the dealer. Moreover, even if power asymmetry in favor of carmakers and stable end markets could previously justify standardized approaches to handling all dealers, now markets are more unstable and there is a stronger dealer-supplier interdependence that influences the perception and the decisions of both parties. Therefore, while carmakers have traditionally followed a dealer strategy based on standardized relationships, in this article we stress the importance of a customized relationship approach. In order to achieve this goal, the paper starts from empirical research results derived from 245 interviews with Italian car dealers and shows the existence of three different clusters of dealers, depending on their collaborative attitude in the relationship with carmakers. The paper then defines the trajectories for improving the three types of relationships based on a portfolio approach and on the application of adequate combinations of competition/power and cooperation/trust in each relationship. Finally, we discuss how unilateral and bilateral communication styles enable the implementation of this sort of customized relationship management strategy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 8, no 1, 235-253 p.
Keyword [en]
Power, Trust, Relationship governance, Car distribution, Automotive
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-133895OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-133895DiVA: diva2:370665
Available from: 2010-11-17 Created: 2010-11-17 Last updated: 2012-05-07Bibliographically approved

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Baraldi, Enrico
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