Managing distributors' changing motivations over the course of a joint sales program

Flora F. Gu, Namwoon Kim, David K. Tse, Danny T. Wang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations


    Ensuring joint program participation by distributors is essential to channel management. Although studies confirm that firms can promote distributor participation by attending to their participation motivations, the authors argue that distributors may change their motivations over the course of a joint program, driven by an increase of program-related information and how their peer distributors behave. Drawing insights from the information asymmetry literature, the authors postulate that distributors' ex ante commitment is driven by their motivation to avoid losses, and after they participate, their ex post adaptation reflects rent-seeking motivations. This study also examines how the participation of peer distributors operates as an information signal that moderates the motivation-participation link for the focal distributor. In the context of an actual sales program, this study confirms the postulate of motivation shift and the salience of network-based information in distributors' program participation. The results show that a manufacturer needs to manage its distributors' participation in a discriminant, process-oriented, and system-sensitive manner by addressing the latter's diverse motivations, changing goals in the joint program, and influences from peer distributors.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)32-47
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Marketing
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Sep 2010


    • Information asymmetry
    • Marketing channel
    • Program participation
    • Rent-seeking motivation
    • Risk-avoidance motivation


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