Enhancing compliance among channel members by modeling reward events: matching motivation and ability with model selection

  • Xu (Vivian) Zheng
  • Xiaoling Li
  • Xingyao RenEmail author
  • Zhilin Yang
Original Empirical Research


Enhancing compliance among channel members is a core, challenging issue in channel management. Building upon social comparison theory, we argue that distributors’ compliance with channel programs may hinge upon their motivation and their perceived ability to comply. To enhance distributors’ compliance level, manufacturers can proactively model reward events to positively influence observing distributors. Our empirical results from one experiment and one field survey confirm that, if distributors lack motivation to comply with the channel program, manufacturers should model a high-performance distributor as a reward recipient, which enhances observers’ compliance through a decrease in perceived financial uncertainty. In contrast, if distributors perceive themselves as having a low ability to comply with the channel program, manufacturers should model a mediocre-performance distributor as the reward recipient, which enhances observers’ compliance through an increase in perceived goal attainability.


Reward Modeling Social comparison Observer Compliance 



The author acknowledges the financial support of The National Natural Science Foundation of China (71672093, 71672192, 91746206, 71672164), the Fund of Asia Research Center in Nankai University (AS1506), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (NKZXB1448, 2018CDXYJG0040), Tianjin Social Science Foundation (TJGL16-002), the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong SAR (CityU 11502218), and the Fund of Ministry of Education of China (18XJA630004).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xu (Vivian) Zheng
    • 1
  • Xiaoling Li
    • 2
  • Xingyao Ren
    • 3
    Email author
  • Zhilin Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.College of BusinessCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.School of Economics and Business AdministrationChongqing UniversityChongqingChina
  3. 3.Business SchoolNankai UniversityTianjinChina

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