The role of relationship quality in the stratification of vendors as perceived by customers

Michael J. Dorsch, Scott R. Swanson, Scott W. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Scopus citations


Companies implement preferred supplier programs to reduce their vendor relationships to a reasonable few. Consequently, vendors who do not effectively manage their customer-based relationships are strong candidates for deletion from a customer's list of long-term suppliers. The emergence of preferred supplier programs suggests that businesses are beginning to formally recognize and reward differences between their qualified vendors. Vendor stratification is proposed as a framework for understanding the evolution of preferred vendor programs. With the growing interest in relationship marketing, a study was conducted to empirically examine the extent to which businesses use relationship quality perceptions to differentiate their qualified vendors. The findings support the notion that relationship quality is a higher-order construct that can be used as a basis for developing vendor stratification systems. The article concludes with a discussion of the managerial and research implications of the study findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-142
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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