The role of relationship quality in the stratification of vendors as perceived by customers

  • Michael J. Dorsch
  • Scott R. Swanson
  • Scott W. Kelley


Companies implement preferred supplier programs to reduce their vendor relationships to a reasonable few. Consequently, vendors who do not effectively manage their customer-based relationships are strong candidates for deletion from a customer’s list of long-term suppliers. The emergence of preferred supplier programs suggests that businesses are beginning to formally recognize and reward differences between their qualified vendors. Vendor stratification is proposed as a framework for understanding the evolution of preferred vendor programs. With the growing interest in relationship marketing, a study was conducted to empirically examine the extent to which businesses use relationship quality perceptions to differentiate their qualified vendors. The findings support the notion that relationship quality is a higher-order construct that can be used as a basis for developing vendor stratification systems. The article concludes with a discussion of the managerial and research implications of the study findings.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Dorsch
    • 1
  • Scott R. Swanson
    • 2
  • Scott W. Kelley
    • 3
  1. 1.Clemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.East Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  3. 3.University of KentuckyUSA

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