Available online 27 May 2013
Effective communication
Task conflict
Relationship conflict
Effective communication on a personal level plays an important role in developing a long-term buyer–seller
relationship, but the process of interpersonal communication may be conflictual. Drawing on the interaction
approach, the present study investigates the interplay between effective communication and interpersonal
conflict in influencing satisfaction and argues that a high level of effective communication not only diminishes
the negative impact of relationship conflict on satisfaction, but also suppresses the positive impact of
task conflict on satisfaction. Surveying data from 298 procurement professionals revealed that as the level
of effective communication increases, the negative impacts of relationship conflict on satisfaction decrease,
but the positive impacts of task conflict on satisfaction also decrease. Therefore, effective communication is
found to be beneficial for improving purchasers’ perceived satisfaction, but the timing of the task conflict,
along with the low levels of relationship conflict, is a critical factor to affect the efficiency of effective
© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
In a long-term relationship between buyer and seller, the nature of
exchange is relational, characterized by reliance on norms and shared
values (Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987). Communication plays a vital role
in the relationship development (Dwyer et al., 1987; Haytko, 2004;
Olkkonen, Tikkanen, & Alajoutsijärvi, 2000) as it is important to develop
shared values and understanding and to coordinate activities (Stanko,
Bonner, & Calantone, 2007). Moreover, communicating such information
has been shown to lead to increased buyer satisfaction (Mohr &
Spekman, 1994) and increased confidence in the seller’s reliability and
integrity (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). This, as a result, lowers transaction
costs (time and effort) required of parties to negotiate and reach agreements
(Ring & Van de Ven, 1994).
Of particular importance in a long-termbuyer–seller relationship is effective
communication on personal level (Haytko, 2004; Olkkonen et al.,
2000), which implies a degree of quality in the information exchanges
between boundary spanners, performed regularly and whenever necessary
(Sanzo, Santos, Vasquez,


& Alvarez, 2003; Sharma & Patterson,
1999; Yen, Wang, & Horng, 2011). Effective communication can develop
a common understanding of the message from both boundary spanners’
perspectives and is essential in order to reduce perceived risk and uncertainty,
shape expectations, resolve any misunderstandings, explain the
options, and build both boundary spanners’ knowledge bases (Sharma
& Patterson, 1999; Yen et al., 2011). In buyer–seller relationship literature,
some research on both organizational and personal levels has reported
that effective communication significantly affects the buyer’s perceived
relationship quality with the seller, on factors such as trust, commitment,
and satisfaction (e.g. Sanzo, Santos, Alvarez, & Vasquez, 2007; Sanzo et al.,
2003; Sharma & Patterson, 1999; Yen et al., 2011).
However, the process involving the exchanges of feedback, clarification,
and explanation between the individuals of the exchange parties
may be conflictual (Zaheer, McEvily, & Perrone, 1998). Specifically,
there are always differences in viewpoints, ideas, and opinions about
the content of tasks being performed, which is a type of interpersonal
conflict: task conflict (Reid, Pullins, Plank, & Buehrer, 2004). Although
extant research has reported that effective communication helps
resolve disputes, which negatively affect the buyer’s perceived conflict
(e.g. Sanzo et al., 2003; Sanzo et al., 2007; Sharma & Patterson, 1999),
it does not mean that high level of effective communication is always
accompanied by low level of task conflict. For example, Zaheer et al.
(1998) argue that “boundary spanners are more likely to confront
trusted counterparts with ‘harsh truths’ than those they do not trust”.
Although task conflict enhances the assessment of shared information
and deliberates careful assessment of alternatives, it can still hurt consensus

موضوعات: بدون موضوع  لینک ثابت

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