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In Search Of Relationship Quality, Customer Retention And Shareholder Value: Findings From An Exploratory, Qualitative Multiple Case Study

Adam Lindgreen

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This article reports on the findings from an exploratory, qualitative first part of a research that (1) theorises that successful creation of shareholder value in relationship marketing and management requires relationship quality, which translates into customer retention, and that (2) models relationship quality and customer retention as key mediating variables in the creation of shareholder value. A multiple case study involving companies (in exporter-importer dyads) in the Danish- British dairy sector, the Danish-British bacon sector and the New Zealand-British wine sector explored the key constructs of relationship quality; specifically, the cases examined whether or not the dimensions of relationship quality that Roberts (1998) and Roberts et al. (2000) have suggested are an appropriate framework. These dimensions are as follows: trust in credibility, trust in benevolence, commitment, conflict, satisfaction and social bonding. The evidence of the findings suggests that it does make sense to employ relationship quality as a concept in relationship marketing and management, and that the six dimensions are an appropriate framework for doing so. The managerial implications of the research findings are examined. The article concludes that there is a positive relationship between all of the antecedents of relationship quality (except for conflict), and that there is a positive relationship between customer retention and all of the consequences of customer retention (except for customer costs), and it proposes to test this idea in a confirmative, quantitative second part (using LISREL) in the context of the New Zealand-British wine sector.