An investigation of the relationships between issue-specific channel conflict and cooperation and overall channel conflict and cooperation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This dissertation examines selected relationships between issue-specific and overall perceptions of conflict and cooperation within a distribution channel setting. The issue of cooperative bias in channel relations, and the dichotomy of issue-specific and overall perceptions are tested. Hypotheses stemming from exchange theory, as applicable to the channel context, are offered on the effects of incongruities, salience, and antagonism on dissatisfaction, conflict, and cooperation.

The research was conducted in two phases. The pretest was used to develop the experimental procedures for parasimulation, to assess the reliability and unidimensionality of the measurement models, and to test the manipulation of the independent variables. Subsequently, the main experiments were conducted. Both phases employed two research designs. Research design one, a 2x2 factorial, examined the effects of two levels each (high and low) of negative incongruity and salience. In research design two, a 2x2x2 nested facto- rial, positive incongruity (high and low) and antagonism (present or absent) were additional independent variables.

Multiple indicators were used to measure the dependent variables of issue-specific dissatisfaction, conflict, and cooperation, and overall conflict and cooperation. Dependent measures were obtained using content-analysis, magnitude estimates, and rating scales. Reliability was assessed using Cronbach's alpha (rating scales), composite interjudge coefficient (content data), and regression exponent (magnitude scales). Unidimensionality of measurement models was also assessed. Inferential statistical techniques of MANOVA, ANOVA, and t-tests were used to test the hypotheses. Including the pretest, altogether five different samples were used. The findings were quantitatively integrated to summarize the results across the different samples and methods, and were statistically homogeneous.

In general, a majority of hypothesized relationships were supported by the data. Issue-specific and overall perceptions of conflict and cooperation were found to be distinct constructs, and the hypothesis of cooperative bias was supported. Incongruities succeeded in explaining the emergence of dissatisfaction, conflict, and cooperation. However, salience and antagonism had directionally correct but weaker explanatory power. Results are discussed with respect to major findings and their theoretical and methodological contributions to the channel research domain. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the limitations of the study and directions for future research.