The Relationships in Marketing: Contribution of a Historical Perspective
Teresa M. Fernandes
João F. Proença
This paper presents an historical analysis of relationship marketing. We discuss the roots and the directions of relationship marketing that are considered relevant: their origins, the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing group (IMP) approach to business relationships, the Nordic approach to services relationships and, the managerial and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) approach of relationship marketing. The paper highlights that the boundaries of relationship marketing as defined in contemporary literature have been permeable and elastic. Relationship marketing consists of a fragmented collection of different approaches, partly independent partly overlapping, inspired by different theories, with a multitude of aggregation levels and several units of analysis. We clarify the scope of this domain and we present a number of critical issues that remain unresolved. Is the concept of relationship marketing ubiquitous and can it be applied to every context? Are relationships alike whatever the market considered? Do they describe the same phenomena or are they different phenomena resulting from different contexts? We present a historical analysis of relationships marketing that could contribute to a better understanding of what relationships are in marketing.
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