Marketing research agency, creative agency and client relationships: a study of relationship tensions

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Purpose – To this date, research on tensions has been carried out on business networks and value co-creation, with no studies exploring tensions within the marketing services context. This study aims to use the three tension categories proposed by Toth et al. (2018) and Pressey and Vanharanta (2006) to address this gap by identifying the tensions experienced in the market research agency (MRA), creative agency (CA) and client relationship, as well as the processes that increase or minimize these tensions. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 25 in-depth interviews were carried out with MRA, CA and client employees. NVivo 12 was used to conduct a thematic analysis to identify the overarching processes that influenced tensions. Findings – Six second-order codes were identified, designating processes that exacerbated or minimized each of the three tensions experienced. Two new processes were identified (“adopting governance processes” and “aspects of identity formation”) which have not been previously reported. An empirical framework was developed pinpointing processes that influenced each tension category, also highlighting complex inter dependencies between behavioral, emotional and structural tensions. Originality/value – This study presents the perspectives of all actors within the marketing services triad providing a more nuanced understanding of tensions at the triadic level, as previous literature predominantly focused either on dyads or on networks. Furthermore, this study highlights important interdependencies between tension categories, providing novel contributions, as well as directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business & Industrial Marketing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2023


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