Relationship Marketing Theory: Its Roots and Direction
This paper participates in the latest discussion on theory formation in the marketing discipline. We argue that some of the novelty and generality claims in current relationship-marketing (RM) propositions are inflated. On the basis of a conceptual analysis of the disciplinary roots of RM thinking, we argue that RM does not form a general theory of marketing, and that actually two types of relationship theory exist: Market-based, more consumer-oriented RM, and Network-based, more interorganisationally-oriented RM. The fundamental differences between these two types of theory are identified and discussed. Theoretical conclusions and managerial challenges originating from the dual nature of relationship marketing conclude the paper.