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Paper info: Relationship Atmosphere: Behind the smoke-screen


Relationship Atmosphere: Behind the smoke-screen


Gilles Roehrich and
Robert Spencer
EuroMed Marseille
Robert Spencer

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 17th IMP-conference in Oslo, Norway in 2001.


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Supplier-Customer relationships, considered as veritable sites of investment by themarketing firm, evolve over time to condition the position of the firm in its market, providingits strategic identity. This evolution is strongly influenced by less tangible elementsintrinsically linked to exchanges taking place over time : the relationship ? atmosphere ?,often discussed in the literature relative to its constituent elements conceptualised usingsuch constructs as trust, cooperation/conflict, power/dependency etc.The ? atmosphere ? dimension of the relationship is considered as essential in bothunderstanding and, ultimately, managing relationships effectively.A first paper examined some of the underlying concepts relative to relationship atmosphere,evaluating the validity of the atmosphere scale using confirmatory factor analysistechniques, thus attempting first of all to answer some preliminary questions as to its realnature.To do so , it made use of a data base comprising characteristics of over a hundredinternational supplier-customer relationships across five national boundaries. The database, the result of the IMP2 project performed in the 1990's, included on the one hand asection of attitude statements relative to perceptions by respondents ? both suppliers andcustomers - of relationship atmosphere, and on the other hand sections investigating boththe profiles of the supplier and customer firms in interaction, and the exchange processesbetween them.Preliminary findings suggested the existence of, rather than the model expected, onecomposed of six first-order factors, four of which combined to generate a second-orderfactor which we labelled relationship ?Transparency?.This paper builds on the previous work, in particular with the use of an expanded data base,comprising a total of more than 300 interviews, including interviews from the Asia-Pacificregion. Focus of analysis is on confirming and refining previous findings, and at the sametime exploring the data base from a cultural similarity/difference perspective.