Journal of Marketing Science ›› 2014, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (3): 32-50.

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Marketing Channel Boundary Person’s Cognition Mechanism of Channel Network and Its Effects on the Channel Behaviors: A Multiple-Case Study

Zhang Chuang, Lin Xi, Zhuang Guijun   

  1. Zhang Chuang, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics;
    Lin Xi, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics;
    Zhuang Guijun, Xi’an Jiaotong University.
  • Online:2014-09-01 Published:2014-11-10


Based on Social Network theory and Business Network theory, the authors interview 14 middle and senior channel managers from 14 firms which include manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, and conduct an exploratory study on following 4 primary questions: “is there a network view in the channel boundary person’s concept?”; “the structural configuration of the cognitive channel network”; “how does channel boundary person perceive the channel network?”, and “how the perceived channel network impact on the channel member’s decision and behavior?”. The research findings show that there is a relative clear channel network in the channel boundary person’s concept, and this cognitive channel network consists of two interwined networks, that is, inter-firm network and interpersonal network across firms. The information about the channel members and transaction terms which flows through the formal firm institution and organizational structure, and interpersonal network across firms is the basis on which channel boundary persons perceive and cognize the channel network. Furthermore, the inter-firm network and interpersonal network across firms influence on channel managers’ decisions, and in turn, impact on the channel members channel behaviors jointly. The research findings are valuable for the future researches on the channel behaviors from network perspective, and for the researches which integrate Chinese traditional cultural factors into the channel behavior framework. The authors also discuss the managerial implications of the research finding.

Key words: channel network, social network, network cognition, interpersonal guanxi across firms