Boundary spanner turnover in professional services: Exploring the outcomes of client retention strategies
Vafeas, M. (2010) Boundary spanner turnover in professional services: Exploring the outcomes of client retention strategies. Journal of Marketing Management, 26 (9-10). pp. 901-920. ISSN 0267-257X
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02672571003633651
Studies suggest that the termination of the interpersonal relationship between boundary spanners at buyer and seller firms can have a damaging effect on the interorganisational relationship. Few studies have addressed this issue in detail, but those that do, advise supplier firms to implement strategies such as service teams and boundary spanner rotation to lessen the negative effects of boundary spanner turnover. By creating multiple bonds between the two firms, dispersing client-specific knowledge widely throughout the supplier firm, and preventing the development of a close bond between buyer and seller boundary spanners, individual interpersonal relationships become less important. However, a review of relationship literature on trust, commitment, social bonds, and knowledge suggests the potential for negative outcomes from the implementation of the strategies. Using case studies and one-to-one interviews with design buyers and their agencies, this paper explores the outcomes, and the contexts in which these outcomes occur, of the two strategies. Adopting a critical realist approach, findings are presented in the form of context-mechanism-outcome models. Agency size, agency culture, client experience, and boundary spanner autonomy are amongst the contexts that influence the outcome of strategy implementation.
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