‘Relationships mean everything’; a typology of small–business relationship strategies in a reflexive context

Fuller, Ted and Lewis, Jennifer (2002) ‘Relationships mean everything’; a typology of small–business relationship strategies in a reflexive context. British Journal of Management, 13 (4). pp. 317-336. ISSN 1045-3172

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8551.00249

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This paper reports on empirical research that investigates the meaning of relationships to owner–managers of small firms, and how differences in meaning are implicated in the strategy of the firms. In–depth interviews with owner–managers yielded 36 usable transcripts. These were coded using a grounded theory approach and the narrative was analysed for differences in meaning. Five categories of orientation to relationships were grounded in the narratives with each firm appearing to have a dominant orientation both with customers and suppliers. A number of apparently common themes in the discourse on relationships, for example, trust, talk, expectations and service, were shown to be interpreted differently, consistent with the types of relationship strategy. We adopted the term strategy because relationships were shown to have a long–term and influential effect, mediated reflexively, on the trajectory of the business. The analysis illustrates the significance of social constructionism and reflexivity as explanatory theories, and therefore the centrality of the meaning of relationships to the strategic management of the firm. Relationships are conceptualized as the mechanism that links the firm to its environment and causal to the impact that change in the environment has on the firm.

Keywords:Small businesses, Small enterprises, Owner-managers, Relationship strategy
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:13079
Deposited On:24 Jan 2014 09:20

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