Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Shahid Nakib Bhuian


In the free market theory established by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations, humans were assumed to automatically seek their own best economic interest. This assumption placed every buyer and seller in conflict with each other. Given the ever-increasing competitiveness of the business environment, it is imperative that salespeople seek to improve relationships with their customers. The purpose of this study is to propose and test a model of conflict management strategies, manifest conflict, relationship quality, and their associations during a particular conflict incident. The first objective is to determine if there is an association between the conflict management strategy chosen and the nature of the manifest conflict, whether functional or dysfunctional. The next goal is to understand any association between either of the two types of manifest conflict and relationship quality, measured using the component constructs of trust and satisfaction. The final purpose of this study is to determine if manifest conflict has any mediating effect between the conflict management chosen and relationship quality.

A survey of 1,950 members of the Institute of Supply Management was conducted to gather data to test the hypotheses. Two hundred seventy-three valid questionnaires were returned.

Of the five conflict management strategies tested, only the one labeled dominating has a significant association with either type of manifest conflict. Dominating has a significant positive association with both functional and dysfunctional conflict. Of the two types of manifest conflict, only one has a significant relationship with relationship quality. Dysfunctional conflict has a significant negative association with trust and satisfaction. Additionally, manifest conflict has no mediating effect on the association between conflict management strategies and relationship quality. Instead, the conflict management strategy integrating has a significant positive relationship with both trust and satisfaction. Additionally, dominating was significantly, negatively associated with trust and satisfaction. Compromising had a significant positive relationship with trust and avoiding had a significant negative association with trust. Of the five, only obliging had a significant association that was not as expected, which was positive with satisfaction.

Included in

Marketing Commons