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Party time: recreation rituals in the world of B2B

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We examine the role of business parties in business markets: why do B2B companies spend such large amounts of money to sponsor events meant for public consumption, such as sporting events, when most of their activity involves selling to other organisations? Drawing from extensive qualitative fieldwork in the world of tennis tournaments, we detail the specific universe of parties that happen backstage, between companies sponsoring these events. This context helps illuminate the critical role of business parties in business networks. Far from being mere recreation at the company’s expense, business parties are important opportunities for executives to develop and manage their relationships. We show that a business party functions as a particular kind of ritual by creating a distinct universe with its own language, gestures, and other modes of interaction.

Summary statement of contribution Our theoretical contribution to the literature on relationship marketing is to detail the unifying function of business parties in local business markets, where relationships with a variety of organisations are key to a company’s success. Our methodological contribution is to illustrate the relevance of anthropological approaches and concepts, such as rituals, to the world of B2B.

Keywords: anthropology; parties; personal contact; relationship marketing; ritual; socialisation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Nanyang Business School, Singapore and Euromed Management, Marseille 2: Euromed Management, Marseille and Bocconi University, Milan 3: Paul Cezanne University Aix-Marseille and Euromed Management, Marseille

Publication date: 2013-08-01

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