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Title: Key account management in an Arab context
Author: Al-Hussan, Fawaz Ziyad Ihsan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 9526
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2011
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This study sought to contribute to the literature on key account management (KAM) relationships. In doing so, it aimed to address a number of gaps in the existing literature, particularly a noticeable lack of research into key account management in developing economies, as opposed to developed economies. More specifically, the study sought to examine the dynamics of key account management relationships in an emerging economy in the Arab World. The main research question to address was: How is KAM relationship management applied in an Arab context? The research utilised 50 cross-sectional semi-structured in-depth interviews to achieve the study’s aim. More specifically, the study was based upon a sample of recipients involved with key accounts from supplier organisations which operated in different sectors and had different ownership – local and foreign. Primary data was gathered through in-depth semi-structured interviews primarily with key account managers, and with company directors, marketing and sales managers, and selling/support teams. In general, the findings revealed that there are informal and formal aspects of KAM relationships in an Arab context that complement each other. These have some similarities and differences with the Western context. In particular, similarities appeared mainly along the formal aspects such as, roles and duties of key account managers (KAMgrs), identification and selection criteria of key accounts, special treatment and activities carried out with key customers; the actors involved including senior managers and support teams; and the resources utilised. However, differences existed in the selection and the recruitment criteria and some competencies that were Arab specific, the degree of involvement of senior managers differ significantly from what is noted in the KAM literature. As for the informal aspect, that is manifested in Wasta and family connections, trust, and personal involvement, which makes the KAM relationship management approach in an Arab context uniquely different and plays a major role in how customers are acquired and retained and the overall management of key customers. Furthermore, evidence shows that there is a tendency to transfer Western KAM practices to the Arab world, with some adaptation to take into consideration the country-specific and contextual factors. Overall, it is argued, that the study’s findings contribute to existing knowledge in a number of ways. First, they extend our knowledge into key account management in an Arab context and confirm the importance of both the formal and informal aspects in managing KAM relationships. They also add weight to the view that in Arab cultures personal and affective/emotional dimensions of the relational factors are given more importance, compared to the impersonal and calculative aspects that are more emphasised in the West. The findings contribute to existing knowledge regarding KAM segmentation and the importance of the personal profile in an Arab context vis a vis the business profile, and they validate the view that a process of crossvergence of management practices is occurring across borders. The findings, however, challenge the view that KAM can be rolled out unchanged into any international context. They also discover the competencies required for Arab KAMgrs. Finally the findings contribute to existing knowledge by discovering the benefits of Wasta for key account managers.
Supervisor: Ryals, Lynette Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available