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Paper info: The Impact of Conflict on B2B Relationships in Services


The Impact of Conflict on B2B Relationships in Services


Marie Newman
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom
Marie Newman

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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The aim of the research is to investigate the impact that inter-organisational conflict has on a B2B buyer-seller relationship. B2B conflict has been largely studied from a channel marketing perspective and there is little research on B2B conflict in the service industry. In order to fully investigate B2B conflict, the study shall seek to address several key facets of B2B relationships which include the concepts of uncertainty and opportunism in B2B relationship in the service sector. These elements when present could threaten to undermine the whole relationship. Examining the existing literature reveals a lack of a clear definition for what constitutes conflict in a B2B relationship. Current definitions for conflict vary from field to field. This provides an opportunity to develop a definition for B2B conflict. Beyond identifying a definition of conflict, the research will attempt to assess the impact of the types of conflict that exist and how, if at all, the relationship is affected. In order to establish an understanding of existing literature addressing conflict, the research will analyse material from a variety of disciplines, mainly from sociology, psychology and B2B. Some of the key research from established authors such as; Gaski (1984), Pondy (1967), Deutsch (1990), Wilson (1995) and Håkansson (1982). In order to satisfy the question mixed methods are to be employed. The primary research is currently entering its exploratory stage and suitable firms are being identified for the initial interviews to be conducted. These interviews will be semi-structured to encourage an open discussion on the interview subjects own conflict experiences. On completion of the interviews and evaluation of the data, a larger scale survey will be conducted targeting a wider segment of service sector firms.
Keywords: conflict, B2B, switching, uncertainty, opportunism, business relationships, outsourcing.