Relationship Termination 

(Updated 6/25/2018--Previous updates 1/18/2018, ,8/4/2017, 5/10/2016, 6/24/2014, 
1/23/2013, 12/26/2012,
6/9/10, 6/10/08, 10/26/07,

Copyright (c) Robert Ping 2006-2018

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FOREWORD AND BACKGROUND--This web site contains substantive (theory testing) research 
responses to problems in "business" relationships such as business-to-business
buyer-seller relationships, and
salesperson-employer relationships.
Currently, it contains several of my theory testing papers in this area, and 
t is intended to help stimulate additional thoughts and research on this topic.

Relationship termination in Sociology and Social Psychology (e.g., in romantic or friendship
relationships) has been heavily researched. There, it is believed that relationships go
  through stages that include creation and growth, and end with dissolution or termination.
However, it is well known that there are dissatisfactory relationships that are maintained
 instead of terminated.
However, comparatively little is known r
elationship termination about "business-to-business"
 relationships. For example, in economics it is assumed that dissatisfactory business relationships
 are simply terminated. However, it is easy to find unsatisfactory business relationships that are
not terminated; at least not right away. Sometimes these relationships continue for quite awhile,
 even indefinitely, just like in marriages.

However, the list of "knowledge gaps" in business-to-business relationship termination, and in the
 larger venue of responses to relationship problems, is considerable and, in my opinion, interesting.

For example, as far as I know,
theoretical research on responses to problems in "business"
relationships such as buyer-seller relationships, and
salesperson-employer relationships (what
could be termed Hirshman-based models)
focuses on "explanation" and possibly prediction of
responses to relationship problems such as Loyalty (the beginning of the relationship),
Voice (Complaining), relationship Neglect and Exiting. However, anyone with "real world" business
experience might say: "OK, but what about relationship repair? Do business ever try to fix important
Further, when I do statistical cluster analysis on Exit, Voice, etc. data there are always hints of
 another cluster of respondents that is somewhere "in between" Voice and Neglect. I suspect these
 informants are wanting/trying to repair their business relationship.
However, I am not aware of any research in the business literature on relationship repair. Several
topics in this venue might include antecedents of business relationship repair (i.e., its explanation or
prediction), or conceptualizing intervention/repair constructs. (I have spent embarrassingly
little time on these matters, but there might be a plausible model of repair with antecedents such as
Dissatisfaction, Alternatives, Investment, Switching Costs, Commitment, Social Constraints,
Relationship Partner Responsiveness, Self Interest, etc.)
(I recently became aware of John Gottman's work on marriages. While the monograph I saw
was in the "pop," rather than academic, literature, Gottman does publish academically, and the
title specifically mentioned relationship repair.) (Further, although it is now dated, S. Duck and
R. Gilmore's Personal Relationships Volume 5, Academic Press, and citations in that
monograph might also be useful, especially for conceptualization.) (In addition, there is a robust
literature on relationships, and presumably their maintenance and repair, in the international
relations literature. However, my brief look at this literature was confusing, perhaps because I
found a lack of emphasis on "studies," only what appeared to be opinions and anecdotes. Still,
the current interest in Realpolitik (political self-interest and realism, as opposed to ideology,
morality, ethics or emotion) and the writings of Hans Morgenthau, for example, might lead
to some original relationship repair theory.)
Returning to the cluster analyses mentioned above, while it is also possible that the "outlier"
between Voice and Neglect in this cluster analysis are simply being
opportunistic (self-interest seeking with guile), some of these respondents didn't fit an
opportunist profile (see the papers below for more on opportunism).
There also is considerable confusion about the construct "Loyalty." The problems range from
 conceptualizing loyalty, to its operationalization in buyer-seller relationships, and they include its
maintenance and restoration, and its antecedents. These matters are different, in my opinion, from
relationship repair.
The maintenance and restoration of relationship Loyalty should occur early in a
 relationship, whereas relationship repair should occur late in a relationship. Again, Gottman may be a
starting point.
Further, cluster analysis and respondent scores in my (brief) post hoc analyses
suggest that in business, relationship Loyalty is a comparatively "rare bird." However, this may
simply be a measurement artifact.
Similarly, relationship neglect, and its possible antecedents/covariants including imbalanced
relationship power, and attempts at relationship equity restoration ranging from lawsuits to
also are not well understood in my opinion. At the risk of overdoing comments
about cluster analysis, "neglecters" are usually the largest cluster in a study. (Again however,
this may be a measurement artifact.)
In addition, relationship repair could be described as moving away from relationship neglect. What
about actually maintaining relationship neglect? As cynical as this may sound, how does one keep
business relationship partners from exiting, regardless of how they feel about the relationship? As
 one colleague put it, "a customer is a customer, no matter how they feel."
Please email me with your thoughts, and any and all questions--I would be delighted to
discuss these matters further.

Please note: If you have visited this web site before, and the latest "Updated" date (at the top of the page)
 seems old, you may want to click on your browser's "Refresh" or "Reload" button on the browser toolbar
(above) to view the current version of this web page.
All the material on this web site is copyrighted, but you may save it and print it out. My only request is
 that you please cite any material that is helpful to you
using the individual citations for each of the papers
shown below.
Don't forget to Refresh: Many of the links on this web page are in Microsoft WORD. If you have viewed one
or more of them before, the procedure to view the latest (refreshed) version of them is tedious (The
browser's "Refresh" button may not work for Word documents on the web). With my apologies for the
tediousness, to refresh any (and all) Word documents in Chrome, for example, please click on the
 "three dots," then "more Tools," "Clear browsing data," and check "Cashed images and files."
that, close the browser window, then re-launch it so the latest versions of all the WORD documents
are forced to download.
Your questions are encouraged; just send an e-mail to Don't worry about being an 
expert in relationship termination, or using "correct terminology" (or perfect English, for that matter).
A Table of Contents or Index to this website is not available. In the meantime, 
please consider using your browser's search capability to go to the relevant material. For example, to find
material on Relationship Neglect in Chrome, for example, depress "Ctrl" and "f" together, then type the word
 "neglect" in the search box.

Selected Papers on Relationship Termination...


"Notes on Salesperson-Employer Relationships: Responses to Relationship Problems and 
   their Antecedents" (An earlier version of Ping 2007, J. of Personal Selling and Sales 
   Mgt., revised December 2006).
The paper investigates the Hirschman-Rusbult model of responses to relationship problems in a 
   salesperson-employer context.

"Unexplored Antecedents of Satisfaction in a Marketing Channel" (An earlier version of 
   Ping 2003, J. of Retailing, revised December 2006).

The paper investigates several antecedents of satisfaction from the Hirschman-Rusbult model of 
   responses to relationship problems in a buyer-seller relationship context.

"Relationship Commitment and Opportunistic Behavior" (An earlier version of Ping 2002, 
   Summer Am. Mktng. Assn. Educators Conf. Proceedings, revised December 2006).

The paper investigates opportunism in retailers.

"Taking Another Look at Organizational Commitment" (An earlier version of Ping 2001, 
   Acad. of Mktng. Sci. Conf. Proceedings, revised December 2006).

The paper investigates organizational commitment in salespersons.

"Exiting in a Marketing Channel" (An earlier version of Ping 1999," J. of Retailing, revised 
   December 2006).

The paper investigates Hirschman's sequence of responses to relationship problems that begins with 
   Loyalty and ends with Exiting in retailers.

"Voice in Business-to-Business Relationships: Cost-of-Exit and Demographic 
   Antecedents" (An earlier version of Ping 1997, J. of Retailing, revised December 2006).

The paper investigates several antecedents of Voice in a marketing channel context.

"Some Uninvestigated Antecedents of Retailer Exit Intention" (An earlier version of Ping 
   1995, J. of Bus. Res., revised December 2006).

The paper investigates several demographic antecedents of Exiting in retailers.

"Does Satisfaction Moderate the Association Between Alternative Attractiveness and Exit 
   Intention in a Marketing Channel?" (An earlier version of Ping 1994, J. of The Academy 
   of Mktng. Sci., revised December 2006).

The paper investigates the interaction between Satisfaction and Alternative Attractiveness in their 
   association with Exiting in a marketing channel context.

"The Effects of Satisfaction and Structural Constraints on Retailer Exiting, Voice, 
   Loyalty, Opportunism, and Neglect" (An earlier version of Ping 1993, J. of Retailing, 
   revised December 2006).

The paper investigates the Hirschman-Rusbult model of responses to relationship problems in a 
   marketing channel context.


Copyright (c) Robert Ping 2006-2018