The nature and role of different types of commitment in inter-firm relationship cooperation

Neeru Sharma, Louise Young, Ian Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – This paper aims to consider the nature and role of commitment in delivering value in customer–supplier relationships by developing and testing a model of relationship cooperativeness. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected using an extended version of the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP2) Group’s instrument. Pre-qualified managers largely self-completed the survey. Model associations were tested via regression and causal path analysis. Findings – Various aspects of commitment play differing roles in relationship development. The role of commitment was less than expected; the exception is value-based commitment which is strongly associated with value creation, conflict management, trust and cooperation. Research limitations/implications – Findings provide explanations for some inconsistencies in previous findings including reported relationships between trust, cooperation and commitment. The composition of the commitment construct(s) strongly influences relationship processes. Practical implications – There are various kinds of commitment to build and multiple pathways to levering this into more effective relationships. In addition, an important part of these findings is strong indications that illustrate what the nature of ineffective commitment-building paths is likely to be. This is extremely important for managers in guiding deployment of relationship management resources and developing relationship management practice. Social implications – The regulation of close business-to-business relationships remains an important issue, and the ways in which commitment can be appropriately extended are an important part of this. Originality/value – This work focuses on the components of commitment in ways that previous work has not. The centrality of commitment in relationship value creation – beyond increased sales and revenue and predictability – is highlighted, and there is considerable extension to the understanding of the nature of this process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business and Industrial Marketing
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-59
Publication statusPublished - 3. Feb 2015


  • Buyer–seller relationships
  • Commitment
  • Cooperative advantage
  • Relationship value


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