Exploring the Role of Actors in the Formation of Market Relationships

  • Antonella La RoccaEmail author


This chapter is an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of the volume, the research question and the study approach. In the first part we discuss the reasons for addressing the issue of business relationships and interaction. The discussion of the reasons why, in business markets, relationships matter both for the development of the single businesses and of the business network (market) at large engenders addressing the question of how do these relationships form, emerge and develop? Past research on the dynamics of business relationships shows that interaction is a critical process in the formation of business relationships. The way actors behave, act and react in their interactions depends on how they perceive and interpret each other’s features and characteristics. Consequently, the research question that permeates the volume is: how do actors attribute identities to counterparts with whom they interact in business relationships? We develop two propositions that constitute the file rouge of the book: (1) attributed identity tends to be relationship specific; and (2) identities are always emergent and change from interaction to interaction. The chapter ends with presenting how we explored empirically these two propositions by following a company’s sales force and participating in meetings with 32 customers and interviewing sales representatives and representatives of the customer organisations before and after the meetings.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rennes School of BusinessRennesFrance

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