The personal touch of business relationship: A study of the determinants and impact of business friendship

Weihe Gao, Yong Liu, Liping Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Business friendship refers to the integration of “business” dealings and personal “friendship” that permeates many markets. As relationship marketing and customer relationship management become increasingly prevalent practices, business friendship as a fundamental element embedded in business relationships needs to be better understood. This paper studies how business friendship is formed and its impact on key marketing outcomes. We propose that business friendship is driven by three factors spanning business and personal domains—congeniality, rule adherence and business reputation. Our empirical analysis is based on survey and actual sales data from 263 client firms of a leading provider of business intelligence and strategic planning services. The results show the three factors contribute significantly to business friendship. We find that business friendship between the client and the supplier significantly impacts the sales to the client, and this impact is further moderated by how the two parties share responsibilities in achieving common goals. In addition, we show that business friendship induces one party to accommodate and cooperate with the other (i.e., compliance), and to engage in positive word-of-mouth. The framework and findings shed lights on how companies may influence (and be influenced by) business friendship as they increasingly emphasize long-term business relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-498
Number of pages30
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Business friendship
  • Congeniality
  • Customer relationship management
  • Interorganizational relations
  • Relationship marketing
  • Reputation
  • Rule adherence
  • Word-of-mouth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management


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