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An Empirical Study of Relationship Marketing Orientation and Bank Performance

Ayopo O. Olotu Department of Marketing, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria E-mail: Darego W. Maclayton Department of Marketing, Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port Harcourt, Nigeria Bright C. Opara Department of Marketing, Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Abstract In this research we examined the practice of Relationship Marketing Orientation (RMO) in Nigerian banks, to replicate the study of Sin, et al (2005) with a conceptual model and measurement scales of RMO in the Nigerian business environment. The six multi-item scales of RMO were tested for reliability and validity using the Confirmatory Factor Analysis through the SPSS statistical tool. The results showed a strong evidence of validity, unidimensionality and reliability using samples from 123 bank branches in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The result further revealed the practice of RMO in the Nigerian Banks and that the RMO dimensions positively correlate with the Business Performance measures used in the study. The results were discussed and recommendations advanced for further research in the area of RMO as a new marketing paradigm.

The traditional marketing mix theory generally focuses on the sellers approach toward achieving set goals. Moller (2006:24) assert that Marketing mix is internally oriented and does not consider customer behaviour, is passive and does not allow interaction, or capture relationships; devoid of theoretical content, while focusing only on management. The traditional marketing mix is therefore viewed as obsolete toward achieving high business performance in a dynamic and more sophisticated environment. Hence, there is a need for paradigm shift in the marketing practice i.e. customer retention through enhance Relationship Marketing Orientation. The emphasis placed on Relationship Marketing as opposed to transaction based exchanges, is today redefining the domain of marketing (Sheith et al, 1988:54). The growing interest of marketing scholars in the relational paradigm is creating the emergence of Relationship Marketing as a discipline. It is important to note here that, the paradigmshift from transactions to relationships is associated with the return of direct marketing, both in Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) markets. The growing interest of marketing scholars in the relational paradigm is creating the emergence of Relationship Marketing as a discipline. In other to develop a valid measure for the new construct Sin et al (2005) did a cross-cultural validation study in Hong Kong and China. This exploratory study led to the development and validation of a measure of RMO, which was found to be reliable, valid and one-dimensional.
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The study has since been replicated in most developed economies and developing economies without recourse to Africa, But Africa and most especially Nigeria is fast growing in economy, as such requires the application of RMO concepts for businesses to be relevant in the global marketing warfare. Hence, this paper examined the Sin et al RMO scale in a developing economy like Nigeria, with emphasis on the banking sector. We provided a brief review of the RMO and Business Performance constructs, while qualitative data and analysis were used to validate the research findings.

Review of Relevant Literature

Historical Perspective of Relationship Marketing The emphasis placed on Relationship Marketing as opposed to transaction based exchanges, is today redefining the domain of marketing (Sheith et al, 1988:54). The conception and growth of RMO over time go back to: (1) Pre-industrial era or medieval period when Direct Marketing was the order of the day, (2) The Industrial Era which refers to the period of industrial revolution that gave rise to mass production and mass consumption of goods and services, and (3) The Post-Industrial Era which witnessed a change in marketing practices from transaction orientation to relational orientation. Shapiro and Posner (1979:125) posit that this period brought about system integration.
Figure 1: The Pre-industrial, Industrial and Post-industrial eras of Marketing.
Period Pre-Industrial era Industrial era Post-Industrial era


Direct Marketing

-Transactional Marketing

Relationship Marketing

Source: Sheith, J .N and Parvatiyar (2005)

Figure 1, revealed the transition of the marketing theory from the pre-industrial era to the postindustrial era, and this paradigm shift has altered the basic foundations of marketing which was buried in exchange theory.

Banking Sector and Relationship Marketing

The Nigerian financial service sector, just like that other of countries provides a full range of banking services. They accept deposits, engaged in lending, effect domestic and foreign payments and provide property management and trustee services and a wide range of other financial services for companies (Firpo, 2006:5). These services are rendered efficiently and with utmost trust and commitment in most developed Nations due to the relational and interactive approach adopted. Law et al, (2003:56) opined that, unique strategies are adopted by banks to maintain relationships with customers. Some of these strategies include; Introduction of negative interest rates for customers with minimum deposit rate. The essence is to identify profitable customers, access to easy loans among others. Palmers (1994:573) concluded that, the application of Relationship Marketing Orientation is for attracting high value customers. They are the starting points in a customer-managed relationship in the marketing environment. The environment is a dynamic place that has the power of influence on the operators to improve business performance. Business performance refers to the effectiveness of organizations in fulfilling its purpose. While some firms trade to return financial benefits to their shareholders, others have non-financial benefits as their returns. It is apparent to note that, in a competitive and dynamic environment, some
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organisations may compare their performance against competitors, while some others measure success with usage and productivity (Epstein, 2004:10). Most often, subjective measures of performance are commonly used, however many of these studies used only a few measures to operationalise this construct. Slater and Naver (1994:22) used only return on investment ROI, sales growth and market share to proxy market performance. Yau et al (2000:118) argued that the current business performance was operationalised by 12 items of Business Performance (BP). In our study, we have considered Market Share, Cost Reduction and Customer Retention as indicators of Business Performance in the new Relationship Marketing Orientation (RMO) paradigm in the Nigeria financial sector, because organisational performance refers to its ability to attract and retain the best mix, quantity and quality of stakeholders. Interestingly, it is pertinent to measure the performance of the firm using available indicators in order to be sure of the effectiveness and efficiency of the tools employed.

Dimensions of Relationship Marketing Orientation

The marketing literature theorised key virtues that underpin Relationship Marketing Orientation. This new concept of marketing is a multidimensional construct, with strong correlations that are positively associated with organizational performance (Sin et al, 2002 and Yau, et al 2000). It is necessary here to understand the dimensions of RMO in order to appreciate the analysis.
Figure 1: The six components of RMO sharing of meaningful and timely information between buyers and sellers.

Trust Bond RMO Reciprocity Communication

Shared value Empathy

Source: Sin et al (2006)

Sin et al (2002:658) stated that there are six dimensions of Relationship Marketing Orientation according to Morgan and Hunt, (1994); Veloutsou et al, (2002); Ndubuisi and Chan, (2005); Crosby et al, (1990), Morgan and Hunt, (1994); Evans and Laskin, (1994); Callaghan et al, (1995); Hinde, (1997); and Egan, (2001). They are: Trust, Marketing communication, Shared value, Empathy, reciprocity, and Bonding. These identified variables are directly linked to and are capable of predicting customer loyalty. Trust: Callaghan et al, (1995:238) describe trust as the belief of confidence in, or reliance on, the truth, goodness, character, power and ability of someone or something. Morgan and Hunt, (1994:24) argued that trust is the willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence. Trust is therefore considered an experience of mutual honesty and confidence that includes few negative surprises and is established on the basis of similar values.
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Due to the implications of trust to profitability, growth, market share, and customer retention; trust is a potentially weapon that banks can employ in their desire to gain a strategic advantage and survive in todays ever increasing competitive environment. Bonding: In a relationship most especially the one between customer and business provider, requires some tie otherwise called bond that unite them together. Callanghan et al, (1995:235) refer to it as the dimension of a relationship that result in two parties (customer and supplier or buyer and seller) acting in a unified manner towards a desired goal. A bond has a number of dimensions which Chiao (1982: 348) noted is based on some cardinal relations including social interaction, closeness and friendship. Ahmad and Buttle (2001:556) noted that in service marketing there are three forms of bonding that exists between parties, thus creating different levels like financial, social and structural bonds. But, Vierra and Ennew (2004); Sin, et al (2006) and Yau, et al (2000) agreed that, the two most widely discussed bond are social and structural bonds. It is important to note that when different forms of bonds are brought to play in a relationship such as in service marketing, the customers are not only seen as clients, but also as partners. Turnbull and Wilson (1989:239) corroborated this assertion when they posit that, as partners, customized services are rendered through mutual understanding. Marketing Communication: Schiffman and Kanuk, (1995:283) saw communication as a tool to persuade consumers; while Canon (1997:382) regard it as the process of establishing a commonness or oneness of thought between a sender and a receiver. Marketing communication can be described as means by which firms attempt to inform, persuade, and remind consumers, directly or indirectly about the products and brands they sell (Kotler, 2005:536). Ahmad and Buttle (2002:10), Kotler, (2005) and Hawkins et al, (2001) concluded that, if Relationship Marketing is to be successful, an integration of all marketing communications messages is needed to support the establishment, maintenance, and enhancement of relationships with customers. Shared Value: Marketing offering is said to be successful only when it delivers value and satisfaction to the target customer. Value according to Kotler and Keller (2005:25) reflects the perceived tangible and intangible benefits and costs to customers. It is seen mainly as the combination of quality, service, and price which Wilson (1995:338) called customer value triad. In both marketing concept and Relationship Marketing concept, value is central. But, in Relationship Marketing Orientation, the values associated with the product offerings are shared between the supplier and the customer. Similarly, Hesket et al (1994:168) posits that shared value is the ability of a company to provide superior value to its customers. The banking sector must therefore, create additional value other than the product or utility value through Relationship Marketing Orientation. A loyal and valued customer can become the bank advocate and ultimately contribute toward improved organizational performance. Empathy: Relationship Marketing Orientation can be viewed as the ability to share, understand and feel another persons feelings in a relational situation. Thus, Sin et al (2002:660) described empathy as dealing with a business relationship that enables two parties to see the situation from the others perspective i.e. seeking to understand somebody elses desires and goals. In the banking sector for instance, the front desk bankers must see themselves in the customers shoe and serve them as such in other to keep them satisfied. Earlier studies have shown the relevance of empathy as a dimension of Relationship Marketing Orientation as shown in the work of Berry, et al (1990:32) in designing SERVQUAL; Hwang (1987:948) in Chinese business relationships where empathy is seen as a sub-component of the Chinese dimension of guanxi in business and social relationships. Reciprocity: This is another dimension of business relationships where it is believed that people owe one another duties because of their prior actions. This is premised on the fact that, if you want help, then you must help others first. In a study Callaghan in Sin, et al (2006:412) described reciprocity as the dimension of a business relationship that causes either party to provide favours or
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make allowances for the other in return for similar favours or allowances to be received at a later date. The act of reciprocity stipulates that returns should be fitting and proportional (Becker, 1986:82). A reciprocal relationship does purchases, shows advocacy and retention which ultimately affect the banks performance positively. The conceptual framework below shows an illustrative relationship between components of RMO and BP.
Figure 2: Conceptual Framework Showing RMO and BP



Study Scope
The Cross-sectional survey approach was adopted in a non-contrived environment, while the study unit is the bank employees of 24 consolidated banks operating in Nigeria and located in Port Harcourt cosmopolitan. Using the Krejcie and Morgan sampling size determination method, we have a sample size of 565 staff respondents (214 Managers and 351 Marketers/Tellers); selected from the 123 branches used in this study.
Table 1:

Questionnaire Distribution Analysis.

Banks No of branches selected 7 bank branches each No of Marketers/Teller per bank Marketer 3 Tellers/ bank branch Managers Remarks

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)

UBA Union bank First bank Finbank Intercontinental Bank Eco bank Spring bank Total

2 managers/bank branch

Banks with more than ten (10) branches




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Oceanic Unity Diamond Zenith Afribank Fidelity GTB Access Skye Stanbic/IBTC Wema Bank PHB FCMB Total 21) ETB 22) Sterling 23) Citibank 24) Standard Chartered Total Source: Survey Data

8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13) 14) 15) 16) 17) 18) 19) 20)

5 banks branches each

Marketer 3 Tellers/bank branch

2 managers/bank branch

Banks with less than Nine but more than 5 branch 5 banks with > 7 branches = 50 managers. 8 banks with <7 branches = 48 managers i.e., 3 branches each.

65 3 4 1 1 9

171 33 Market teller

98 18 Managers

Banks with less than 5 branches 4 tellers/bank



Structured research questionnaire was the main instrument for data generation, with 409 (72%) accepted and used for our analysis. In-depth interview (IDI) method and observation were used to generate relevant qualitative data to shed more light on issues already contained in the questionnaire. See table 2 below for details.
Table 2: Questionnaire Distribution and Retrieval
No Administered 214 246 105 565 No Retrieved 163 177 82 422 Acceptable Number 161 173 75 409 % of success 28 31 13 72%

Bank staff Managers Marketers Tellers Total Source: Research Data

The cleaned data was analysed for Univariate results and demographically, to ensure the source quality and achieve set objectives through the use of computer-based Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). While, our interview results was analyzed using a statistical package designed for qualitative data i.e. QSR NVIVO software package, see table 5 for the listing.

Data Analysis Reliability and validity of the RMO; Scale reliability analysis: Table 3, reports the reliability of the scales of the constructs under study based on Cronbachs Coefficient Alpha (Nunnally, 1978 and Ahiauzu, 2006).
Table 3:
S/No 1 2 3 Source:

Reliability Test Results

No of items 23 9 5 Cronbachs Alpha .868 .752 .671

The Variables Relationship Marketing Orientation (RMO) Business Performance (BP) Contextual Factors (CF) SPSS Output

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The table revealed an overall Cronbachs Alpha Coefficient of 0.9 for RMO, 0.8 for BP and 0.7 for organisation factor and were all higher than the 0.7 set standard. Considering the reliability coefficient of the six sub-scales that are positive (Table 4), one could say that all our scales are reliable as shown in Table four. Further more, Table four, revealed that there was no Multicollinearity as no variable correlated too high. The study determinants of RMO and BP is greater than 0.0001 and none of the correlation matrix is greater than 8, thus no need for elimination. With respect to the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of adequacy and Bartletts test of Sphericity, our result revealed a very high KMO which is more than 0.50 to 1 and as such, we are confident that our sample is appropriate for this study and the data are adequate as posted in Kaiser (1974).
Table 4: Confirmatory results of factor analysis on RMO and BP
Initial 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 Initial Extraction (Coefficient) .515 .633 .708 .567 .531 .605 Extraction (Coefficient) .703 .767 .556 Eigenvalues 3.159 (52.654%) KMO .829 Determinant .142 Test of Sphericity .000

Dimensions of RMO Trust Bonding Communication Shared value Empathy Reciprocity Dimensions of BP


KMO .542

Determinant .595

Market share 1.000 1.726 (57.547%) Customer retention 1.000 Costs reduction 1.000 Source: Research data KEY: KMO= Kaisser-Meyer-Olkin (Measure of adequacy)

Test of Sphericity .000

On the other hand, Bartletts measure of sphericity test shows significance less than 0.05 meaning that our data are not identical, for there is a relationship among the variables. The study revealed a convergent validly because the there was a high degree of agreement between the measures of the same construct. That is, there was a correlation among the six components of RMO and the three components of BP which ranged between .303 and .615 for RMO and .164 to .600 for BP and all correlations were significant at P<.01. More so, each of the components was also correlated with the overall measure of RMO at .642. In view of this , one could conclude that the components are convergent on a common construct just as Sin et al, (2005; 1990) noted that Nomological validity reveal the ability of a scale to show positive and significant association (). In our study context, there were positive and significant relationships among the measures of RMO and BP. Judging from the results of both the convergent and Nomological tests, we thereby conclude that there exist construct validity of the six sub scales of RMO, and three scales of BP in the Nigerian banking sector. The study also revealed the presence of RMO in the banks for a minimum of 3-5years by 22% of the respondents, while 47% agreed that theyve been practicing RMO for the past 16years and above. In the same vein, a whopping 71% agreed that all the six sub-scales of RMO are being applied in all the banks. It was discovered that, there was a very high level of relationship between the banks and their customers. The results showed that the six dimensions of RMO were highly correlated and significant as practiced in the Nigerian banking sector and this is consistent with Sin et al, (1990), Yau et al, (1998), Slater and Narver,(1994) and Jawoski and Kohli,(1993).

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Table 5:

Correlations between RMO Dimensions and BP Measures

RMO Scales Market Share .304** .351** .397** .433** .396** .429** Customer Retention .222** .519** .421** .521** .337** .470** Cost reduction .121** .417* .376** .383** .188** .269**

Trust Bonding Marketing Communication Shared Value Empathy Reciprocity ** Statistically significant at the .01 level * Statistically Significant at the .05 level

The final findings of this study can be seen from integrating and harmonizing the research results of the two methodological approaches. Relationship Marketing Orientation (RMO) as a new marketing paradigm need to be effectively and effiently practiced in the Nigerian banks, to boost Business Performance (BP) as measured by high Market Share, high Customer Retention and Cost Reduction. Table five revealed a positive and significant relationship between the RMO dimensions and BP measures. Similarly, from the interview, transcription was done using the Rich Text Format that was imported into the Nvivo software. Then nodes were created using the Tree Nodes style. Generating this, we had parent nodes and child nodes for RMO and BP. A total of 17 nodes were created and it is on these nodes that the document texts were coded, see table 6 below with the nodes details.
Table 6: Tree Nodes Created
NO OF NODES 1 1/5 1/6 1/7 1/8 1/9 1/10 2 2/11 2/12 2/13 4 4/22 4/23 4/25 20 21 PASSAGES 11 14 6 13 8 6 16 16 7 17 13 4 4 25 16

S/N TITLE CATEGORY 1 RMO Parent 2 Trust Sibling 3 Bonding Sibling 4 Communication Sibling 5 Shared value Sibling 6 Empathy Sibling 7 Reciprocity Sibling 8 BP Parent 9 Market share Sibling 10 Customer retention Sibling 11 Costs reduction Sibling 12 Degree of R/S Parent 13 Acct. officer Sibling 14 Bank Sibling 15 No. difference Sibling 16 KYC Parent 17 Sociality Parent Source: survey data and QSR Nvivo version 2.0.161

The results from the preceding table revealed the relationships that exist between RMO and BP, the model summarized the findings of these items RMO have seven children i.e. Trust, Bonding, Communication, Shared Value, Empathy, Reciprocity and a serendipitous finding called Sociality. This shows a confirmation of the theoretical or literature acceptance of the six measures of RMO and the findings from our quantitative analysis. It is pertinent to recognize the presence of KYC in the model. KYC simply means know your customers, this is the term used to describe personalized banking concept in relationship building, which is designed to have competitive advantage by the various banks under study. The serendipitous finding of Sociality (KYC) in the model is seen as a sub-scale of RMO. Sociality is viewed by the
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respondents as one of the dimensions of RMO designed to ensure social interactions between the bank/account officer and the customers. The model revealed the relationship between the parents of RMO and BP, as well as their children. The siblings of RMO otherwise called its dimensions were shown to be seven, but Bonding Communication, Shared Value, Sociality and Reciprocity have stronger influence on the concept of RMO and subsequently on the out come i.e. Business Performance.

The RMO scale when applied to the Nigerian business environment will be reliable, valid and unidimensional, which is consistent with Sin et al (2005) exploratory study in China. Our study has equally revealed that RMO exists in the services industry for the purposes of enhancing Business Performance based on goals set by the firms. On the relationships of RMO-BP of the Nigerian banks, Sin et al, (2005:185) observed that RMO has generally been assumed to create a competitive edge for an organization. But we found that the practice of RMO in the banks has contributed immensely to Business Performance as revealed in increased Market share, high Customer retention and Cost reduction. This agree with literature, which shows relational marketing activities as leading to increase revenue (Reichheld, 1996: 69) repeat purchase (Jackson 1985: 87), Long-term value (Gronroos, 1994: 356): customer retention (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990: 108) and cost reduction (Evans and Laskin, 1994: 442). Similarly, we observed a serendipitous dimension that played a role in the RMO-BP relationships, this new dimension called sociality is rooted in the social exchange theory which suggests that friend, families and other groups are treated according to Rodriguez and Wilson (2002: 56) as valuable inputs in reaching set goals. Sociality is a common feature in our daily banking services rendered to customers, and was revealed to have greatly impacted on Business Performance. The implications of our findings are both theoretical and practical, even as it contributes to the existing academic knowledge in the area of RMO. Also, the measuring scales of RMO has empirical evidence of testability in line with its reliability and validity, and the empirical finding correlation of RMO and BP is another ground breaking foundation for further work in this field. In the same vein, marketing practitioners have a base for planning their increased performance with the results of this study. Just as Sin observed, the scale could be used as diagnostic tool to identify areas of the bank for specific improvements and design an effective marketing strategies and policies to outwit competitors.

We recommended that: i) the banking service sector in Nigeria need to greatly improve on the practice of Relationship Marketing Orientation, as a new marketing paradigm to outwit competitors in the battle for the acquisition and retention of the highly controversial and informed customers. ii) The banks core values should be centered on the seven dimensions of RMO, rather than giving a blanket strategic policy that would yield little or no result. iii) The serendipitous finding of Sociality opens a new window for managers approach to the implementation of RMO in their banks.

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