The effects of distributor relationship commitment and relationship exploration on opportunism: The moderating roles of exchange uncertainties and network factors

Sin Yan Tse, Danny T WANG*, Junfeng ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Channel management entails both the evaluating of incumbent business partners and simultaneously seeking potential new partners. In supplier–distributor exchanges, distributors can explore alternative suppliers while still committing to incumbent suppliers. While the current literature has demonstrated the importance of relationship commitment, the consequences of relationship exploration and whether that exploration is harmful to any incumbent relationships remain unclear. Drawing from relational governance and social network theories, this study thus examines how distributor dual relationship strategies of commitment and exploration influence their opportunistic behavior. The findings from a survey of 328 distributor firms indicate that relationship commitment leads to reduced opportunism; yet relationship exploration exerts no significant main effect on opportunism. More interestingly, these effects are subject to two types of uncertainty and two characteristics of distributor network wherein the focal exchange relationship resides. Specifically, behavioral uncertainty—an internal source of uncertainty—aggravates the opportunism that arises from both strategies, whereas, environmental uncertainty—an external source of uncertainty—alleviates both these effects. The distributor's network density weakens the effect of relationship commitment on opportunism, but network centrality strengthens this effect. By contrasting relationship commitment with relationship exploration under multiple moderating conditions, this study advances the extant channel relationship management literature and practice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)301-313
    Number of pages13
    JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
    Volume83
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Marketing

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Channel management
    • Interorganizational relationship
    • Market environment
    • Network centrality
    • Network density

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