The Exporter - Import Agent Contract and the Influence of Cultural Dimensions
This paper examines the relationship between an exporter and an import agent in an international marketing channel using agency theory and cultural dimension frameworks, and proposes a research agenda with five testable propositions from this literature. Agency theory provides a way of forming an efficient exporter-agent contract and suggests that efficient contractual conditions are likely to provide the basis of a successful negotiated outcome. Cultural dimensions are elements that are likely to create obstacles to an efficient contractual outcome. This paper presents the concept of the dimensional gap that exporters may need to bridge in order to form an efficient contractual relationship. We suggest that in a cross cultural encounter, a divergence of cultural dimensions between the parties to the contract will impact adversely on agency costs and lead to contractual inefficiencies. By identifying gaps in the cultural dimensions between contractual parties, and taking steps towards reducing these gaps, the potential for such inefficiencies can be reduced, improving the chances of successful contractual outcomes. The dimensional gap considers the influence of four cultural dimensions on contractual efficiency. This paper presents five testable propositions suggesting that cultural gaps within power distance, individualism and masculinity, can be bridged through greater flexibility and adaptability in management decisions acquired through experience and learning, whereas gaps in long term orientation and uncertainty avoidance are less likely to be influenced by such behaviour. Where the latter condition exists, it is proposed that the potential of high transaction costs will result in exporters by-passing intermediaries and using more integrated forms of entry.