Relationship ending from the perspective of the non-initiator

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Abstract:

Over the past two decades business relationship scholars have given particular attention to why and how relationships end. Much work has already been undertaken within this field which although initially conceptualised as simply the conclusion of the relationship, it is now more appropriately recognised as a process in its own right However, while a dyadic perspective to relationship ending is recognised as important, the literature, to date, has privileged the perspective of the initiator of the ending process. Therefore little is known about the activities and responses of the 'other party'. This is the focus of this paper. Data from a longitudinal case study between an arts organisation and a multinational organisation is analysed using Tähtinen's (2002) process model of relationship ending. In confronting the theory with a rich empirical case we have advanced our understanding of relationship ending, shedding light on new areas heretofore obscured. In particular we develop the concept of non-initiator awareness, whereby boundary spanners, exposed to enough information and detail, can forecast relationship ending and thereby effect how their organisation responds. Once the role of the 'other party' has been identified we go on to consider specific transition management strategies available to them. The choice of strategy will depend on whether they take a resigned or resistant stance and are either self or other orientated. We conclude by considering the research and managerial implications of the work.
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