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Power base research in marketing channels: a narrative review

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Management Reviews
Issue number2
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)131-149
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/04/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper reviews work based upon French and Raven’s power base theory in the marketing channel field. The orthodoxy developed through the 1970s that encompassed theoretic, conceptual and methodological elements is traced along with the origins of the measurement systems applied in empirical work to this day. Mirroring the movement towards the relationship marketing paradigm, the paper considers the substantive contribution made through power base theory to our understanding of power, conflict, trust and commitment in marketing channels. This contribution has been limited by inconsistency of treatment and by contradictory findings. In particular the relationship between power bases and power, their role in conflict processes and the status of reward remain unclear. Despite limitations, future extension of the theories use is indicated by its recent application both to different (non-western) geographies and cultures as well as within qualitative work.

From this critical review two possibilities for enhancing understanding of power in channels are presented. Firstly, applications of power base theory should take account of the developments to that theory made within social psychology since its initial formulation in that field. Secondly, limitations to the conceptualisation of power applied through this theory to marketing channels must be recognised so that conceptualisations popular elsewhere in the social sciences may illuminate also this context.