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Linking Atmosphere and Reputation in Order to Measure Business-to-Business Relationships

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The aim of this paper is to investigate the phenomenon of "atmosphere" in business-to-business relationships and its link to corporate reputation. The work of the IMP Group has emphasised the importance of a positive atmosphere but until recently has measured it only in a qualitative manner. Research in the fields of retail and services marketing discusses "atmosphere" but very much in the physical sense i.e. the store ambience. This paper attempts to define and measure atmosphere quantitatively in a business-to-business environment using a scale developed by Davies, Chun, da Silva and Roper (2001.) It is suggested that "atmosphere" is comprised of the emotionally important traits of Agreeableness and Ruthlessness, which are two of a 7-dimension scale of corporate personality. We suggest that "atmosphere" can be measured from two perspectives, that of the customer facing employees and the customers of business-to-business brands. Customers and staff of two business-to-business brands are surveyed (n=627). The results suggest that a positive and shared opinion as to the "atmosphere" within which the interactions take place will directly affect satisfaction with a business-tobusiness brand. The importance of alignment between customer and employee views of "atmosphere" are discussed and a model produced which links these views with satisfaction. One of the more contentious empirical findings is that Ruthlessness, or rather the Dominance facet of Ruthlessness, could affect performance positively, in other words the more aggressive the sales policy the more likely such a company will succeed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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