2 for Me, 1 for You… Why Unfair Situations May Persist in Business Relationships.

Dec 18, 2013, 10:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Dec. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New research investigates how culture impacts the importance that managers place on fairness in retailer supplier relationships.

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Certain assumptions seem so obvious that they are rarely questioned in the popular press or among business theorists. The belief that fairness is universally important is a good example. Americans assume that fairness is essential for a successful business relationship, but those from other cultures may consider fairness less important than other concerns such as the preservation of community ties, investing in the future, or simply receiving adequate cash flow to survive. We suggest that the importance of fairness is dependent on a wide variety of factors, but focus on the manager's cultural values and exposure to other cultures.

434 retailers from 10 different countries (Australia, China, Hungary, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, the UK, and the US) were surveyed by a multinational team of researchers. Each retailer manager reported the importance of fairness in their relationship with one specific supplier, as well as the manager's cultural values and exposure to other cultures. We find that fairness is significantly more important among those with low tolerance for uncertainty, an effect that is enhanced with greater exposure to other cultures. Managers who hold values traditionally associated with "masculine" cultures such as assertiveness, performance, success and competition also place greater importance on fairness as cultural exposure increases. Details about this research appear in "Culture's Impact on the Importance of Fairness in Interorganizational Relationships" in the December 2013 issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of International Marketing.

"With the increasingly global economy and shift of economic power to cultures very different from western society, our findings highlight the fact that the common assumptions held in the west regarding business relationships should be questioned. The successful global firm of the future will recognize this and adapt not only to a different language and a set of customs, but also the differences in cultural values," write authors Donald Lund, Lisa Scheer and Irina Kozlenkova.

Our findings suggest that culture, and the exposure to other cultures impact the importance of fairness for business relationships. This highlights two important questions: in addition to fairness, what other aspects of a relationship (communication, respect, authority, etc.) might people value differently depending on their cultural background? And, if fairness is less important, what becomes more important in the relationship? While our research doesn't answer these questions, it highlights the importance of asking them for successful cross-cultural business relationships.

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Contact: Christopher Bartone – 312.542.9029 – cbartone@ama.org

SOURCE American Marketing Association