An investigation into the international channel relationships of exporting firms and their agents and distributors with particular reference to the UK and West Germany
This research investigates the channel relationships of UK exporting manufacturers and West German agents and distributors. The objective of the research was to explore the behavioural aspects of the intra-channel relationships in the international context, with emphasis on channel conflict, satisfaction and the development states of these channel relationships. A number of hypotheses were tested as follows: the relationship between manifest conflict, channel satisfaction and a number of marketing mix variables was explored. Channel satisfaction and manifest conflict were related to past performance and relationship uncertainty. Finally, the development states of the relationships were explored to identify the development state of each UK manufacturer and of each West German agent and distributor. The data collection instrument used was the mail questionnaire. Little empirical work has been conducted into the behavioural aspects of international marketing channels. The contributions made to the knowledge of the subject treated are, firstly, the identification of a 'conflict gap' between UK manufacturers and West German agents and distributors; West German agents and distributors identified higher levels of conflict than the UK manufacturers. Secondly, UK manufacturers identified higher levels of satisfaction with the relationship than the West German agents and distributors. For both UK manufacturers and West German agents and distributors it was found that lower levels of conflict were correlated with higher levels of satisfaction, a more optimistic view of the future of the channel relationship and acceptable levels of performance to the channel participants. Higher levels of conflict for both manufacturers and agents and distributors were correlated with lower levels of satisfaction, a more pessimistic view of the future of the relationship and unacceptable levels of performance. Finally, channel relationships were found to fall into one of five relationship development states: new, growing, troubled, static or declining.