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Paper info: A matter of face


A matter of face


Antonella La Rocca
Rennes School of Business
Antonella La Rocca and
Ivan Snehota
University of Lugano
Ivan Snehota

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.


Not available


How companies look to their stakeholders has always been argued to be of importance, especially in marketing. In this paper we explore the role of corporate associations in developing new relationships in an existing business network. Prior research has shown that in business relationships mutually attributed corporate associations affect the interaction processes and thus how a relationship develops. We discuss the topic using the notion of ‘face’ of a business in relation to another business. Our argument is that the meaning of a face has significant direct consequences for the development of business relationships between suppliers and customers and the outcomes of these. We start our discussion from two questions: (1) why do faces matter in business (markets); and (2) what’s in a face? We then examine how faces of a business affect the development of new relationship using anecdotes that illustrate different contexts and roles of face in developing relationships in an existing business network. We argue that an on-going business has different faces that are context dependent and only partly under control, while new businesses acquire multiple faces one by one interacting with specific counterparts.