J Brock Smith

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In response to complex and uncertain environments, marketers are forming horizontal selling alliances in which sales representatives from two or more independent sales forces work cooperatively as partners to provide joint customer solutions. This study examined how organizational differences, perceived trustworthiness, and trusting behaviours affect the effectiveness of selling partner working relationships. Drawing on social exchange theory and the IMP Interaction Approach, conceptual and structural equation research models were developed. These were operationalized using relationship-level and aggregated individual-level indicators. Hypotheses were tested using Partial Least Squares and dyadic, self-report data collected from computer sales representatives.;Organizational differences, particularly differences in reputations for professionalism and job stability, were found to play a modest role in affecting perceptions of partner trustworthiness, but had little indirect impact on the mutual satisfaction of the partners, perceived relationship continuity, or perceived task performance. Dimensions of mutual perceived trustworthiness were found to be key determinants of mutual satisfaction, primarily through the intervening trusting behaviours of relationship-specific investment, communication openness, and forbearance from opportunism. In addition, mutual perceived equity and mutual perceived interdependence were found to be key determinants of mutual satisfaction.;The study highlights the importance of developing trust in working relationships, separating the belief and behavioural components of trust, and examining their underlying dimensions to be able to develop recommendations for managers and sales representatives in horizontal selling alliances. It also contributes to our understanding of using relationship-level and aggregated individual-level measures to study dyads as a unit of analysis.



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