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Most companies, active in business markets, have problems managing their most important or strategic customers. Those important customers represent typically more than 80% of current and sometimes future company revenues. Research indicates that in spite of an increased by 300% of the number of account managers between 1992 and 1996, 53% companies still report the ineffectiveness of relationship building with strategic customers (Napolitano, 1997). Our research confirms these findings. We call this the efficient-performance problem. 

 
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Account management research is characterized by a discrepancy between its practical importance and the research interest devoted to the subject, despite the importance of account management for creating shareholder value. Current academic research is consequently under-researched and fragmented. This results in partially understanding of account management. 

 
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Based on existing account management and relationship marketing research, using the theoretical foundations of the resource based view and the contingency theory; we examined the effect of congruence on account management performance. Three constructs were developed: inter-organization congruence, intra-organization congruence and account management performance. We examined as well two contingency effects: market turbulence and technological turbulence. The research model was tested on 115 Belgian companies active in business markets. 

 
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Results showed a significant and positive effect between congruence and account management performance. The utmost important predictor for account management performance was strategic congruence between customer and supplier. Its importance increased in an environment with high market turbulence and high technological turbulence. Surprisingly we found that intra-organization congruence had no significant effect on account management performance. Based on these findings we developed the account management congruence performance (AMCP) model. 

 
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Our research demonstrates the major importance of customer selection on account management performance. Companies can increase their performance if they select strategic customers based on mutual strategic congruence criteria. Research shows as well that internal account management methodologies and systems have only a marginal impact on account management performance. This research contributes to a further integration between marketing organization research, relationship marketing research and strategic management research.  

 
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If you agree or disagree with this point of view or if you want to order the full report, please mail me at Derrick Gosselin

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Members my dissertation committee were (2002): 

 
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Prof. Aimé Heene, Head management and entrepreneurship department, Supervisor, Ghent University (B).

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Prof. Patrick van Kenhove, Head marketing department, Ghent University (B).

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Prof. Arnoud De Meyer, Dean Judge Business School, Cambridge University (UK) - (in 2002, Deputy Dean and Dean of Administration, INSEAD (F).

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Prof. Paul Matthyssens, Marketing department, Antwerp University (B).

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Prof. Harry Commandeur, Dean Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam (NL).

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Prof. Stefan Stremersch, Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam (NL) & Goizueta Business School, Emory University (USA).

 

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