Managing business relationships successfully is critical for many professional service firms (PSFs) in order to be able to address complex client needs. Furthermore, the project-based nature of PSFs' work puts pressure on them to retain clients across project periods. Drawing on both net effect and configurational perspectives, this study provides a holistic understanding of the relative importance and of the interplay of social and economic determinants of business relationship performance in the context of dynamic relationships between PSFs and their clients. Using data from 297 business clients, the results reveal that, overall, social determinants are more important than economic determinants as drivers of the client's willingness to cooperate with a PSF in future. The importance of social determinants increases further in later relationship lifetime phases. The configurational analysis also reveals several equifinal constellations of social and economic determinants across the lifetime phases to drive a client's willingness to cooperate in future. Therefore, no single determinant by itself is sufficient for ensuring relationship performance. We advance the literature by showing that distinct constellations of social and economic determinants are required to achieve the desired outcome, and that these constellations change across business relationship lifetime phases.

Business relationships, Social and economic determinants, Professional service firms, Configuration theory, Lifetime phases,
Industrial Marketing Management
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Heirati, N., Henneberg, S.C., Richter, A., & Harste, R. (2019). Differential importance of social and economic determinants of relationship performance in professional services. Industrial Marketing Management, 76, 23–35. doi:10.1016/j.indmarman.2018.07.009