Customer Satisfaction in Industrial Markets : Dimensional and Multiple Role Issues

Homburg, Christian ; Rudolph, Bettina

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-425436
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 1999
The title of a journal, publication series: Reihe: Wissenschaftliche Arbeitspapiere / Institut für Marktorientierte Unternehmensführung
Volume: W009
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publishing house: Inst. für Marktorientierte Unternehmensführung, Univ. Mannheim
ISBN: 3-89333-169-7
Edition: [Nachdr. der Ausg.] Koblenz, 1997
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Business-to-Business Marketing, Sales & Pricing (Homburg 1998-)
Subject: 330 Economics
Abstract: It has been said that in industrial markets relationships are long-term oriented, enduring, and complex (Ford 1980; Hakansson, 1982; Hutt and Speh 1992; Turnbull and Wilson 1989). The relationships between buyers and sellers are often bilateral and the products need to be customized to the buyers´ needs. Therefore, the customer is no longer a passive buyer, but an active partner. Against this background, the satisfaction of the customer may play an important role in establishing, developing, and maintaining successful customer relationships in industrial markets. Clearly, the construct of customer satisfaction for industrial customers is of sufficient importance both theoretically and managerially to warrant more attention. In spite of the apparent importance of the concept, customer satisfaction in industrial markets remains a rather primitive concept. It is almost never conceptually defined, nor explicitly operationalized, when it is used. However, before customer satisfaction can play a positive role in its envisioned applications, it must be based on adequate conceptualization and suitable measurement methodologies, which, most researchers agree, are presently lacking. In contrast to most of the studies in this area, we focus on customer satisfaction for industrial firms, specifically customer satisfaction in customer-supplier relationships. Customer satisfaction in marketing channels, i.e., satisfaction of a dealer with the overall relationship with a manufacturer (see Gassenheimer, Sterling, and Robicheaux 1989; Ruekert and Churchill 1984; Schul, Little, and Pride 1985), thus is not considered in this paper. Our article makes several contributions: First and most important, our purpose is to develop a multiple-item measure of industrial customer satisfaction and assess its psychometric properties. Second, the influence of the identified dimensions of customer satisfaction on overall satisfaction is analyzed. Third, as buying decisions in industrial companies are usually not individual but group decisions (see, e.g., Haas 1989; Lilien and Wong 1984; Webster and Wind 1972a), we analyze differences in customer satisfaction between functional categories of the members of the buying center (referred to as "multiple role issues"). A buying center may be defined as an "informal, cross-sectional decision-unit, in which the primary objective is the acquisition, importation, and processing of purchasing-related information" (Spekman and Stern 1979, p. 56). The paper is organized as follows. In the first section we review the relevant literature. In the two sections to follow we describe the research method and the scale development and validation. After this multiple role issues are analyzed. Finally we discuss theoretical, methodological, and managerial implications and offer directions for future research.
Additional information: Der Titel wurde anläßlich der Gründung des IMU aus einer Schriftenreihe des ZMU (Zentrum für Marktorientierte Unternehmensführung) an der WHU Koblenz übernommen.

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