The initiation and development of exporter-importer relationships
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This dissertation reports an exploratory study of exporter-importers relationships, using a multiple case study methodology to analyse the data from 36 dyads gathered through personal interviews of New Zealand exporters and importers in Australia, Japan and the United States. Relationships are conceptualised as a continuum spanning relationship initiation, through development to quality relationships. Relationship initiation is linked to the export and supplier selection literature to yield a dyadic perspective of the search and selection process. Theoretical relationship stages models do not fit the empirical data and a revised relationship development model is proposed. The continued influence of bid and vendor-related factors throughout export relationships raises questions about relationship marketing as a new paradigm and the 'death' of the marketing mix, as theorised by recent authors. The changing influence of these factors led to proposing relationship strength as a measure to position dyads on a relationship continuum, thus providing guidance on appropriate relationship tactics for each dyad based on its continuum position. Quality relationships are defined as a special condition of high relationship strength. This study reveals that exporters lack understanding of the importers' perspective of the relationship and the factors important to importers' decision making. Therefore, the propensity of researchers to use surveys of exporters to understand performance provides an incomplete and potentially unreliable picture. Exporters must proactively seek an understanding of importer requirements and manage the relationship development process to provide robust export relationships. This study provides a fresh perspective on exporting and raises questions which can provide many years of productive research. Current theory is challenged and new theory proposed.