Distribution Channel Network and Relational Performance: The Intervening Mechanism of Adaptive Distribution Flexibility

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  • The research underlying this article was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71272155).

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ABSTRACT

Network theories argue that organizations can enjoy information and control benefits from the network in which they are embedded. Focusing on distribution channel networks with strong, prominent, and central ties, this article argues that distribution flexibility, composed of logistics and relationship flexibility, is a response to environmental uncertainty that mediates the effect of channel network embeddedness on relationship performance. Results show that logistics flexibility and relationship flexibility fully mediate the effect of channel network embeddedness on relationship satisfaction, but that only relationship flexibility mediates the effect of channel network embeddedness on long-term relationship orientation. Furthermore, not only is the effect of tie strength on logistics flexibility stronger in an uncertain environment, but relationship flexibility also decreases as the congruence between uncertainty and tie strength increases, suggesting a complex higher-order contingency model.

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