Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recognizing uncertainty and managing appropriately: How should sales managers do it?
by Dingus, Rebecca, Ph.D., Kent State University, 2014, 195; 3618901
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the effects of sales managers' behaviors on sales force performance, given various situations that sales forces face. Using a structure-conduct-performance framework, the most appropriate behaviors that sales managers should engage in are determined by assessing performance relative to sales managers' conduct in the presence of varied structural factors.

Assuming that a sales manager's conduct varies based on the structural (i.e., situational) variables facing a sales force, a framework of transaction cost economics is used to identify the structural variables of transaction specific assets and uncertainty (both external and internal). As these structural conditions vary, the appropriateness of particular sales manager behaviors also changes. Sales manager conduct is considered with respect to (1) sales manager's control (behavior-based, outcome-based) of the sales force, (2) sales manager's trust in the sales force, and (3) a sales manager's adaptability to the sales force and related situations. Unique conceptualizations are provided for both control (challenging its traditional single continuum) and adaptability of the sales manager (extending beyond adaptive selling behavior). The sales force is the unit of analysis and, accordingly, performance is assessed as sales force performance.

Thirteen hypotheses are formed to predict relationships between the structure, conduct, and performance variables. Using self-assessed, sales manager data, they are empirically tested. A survey created by adapting scales from the literature assesses the structural conditions sales managers are facing, the behaviors in which they engage, and how their sales forces perform. Participating sales managers were recruited through two university sales centers and through social ties. Respondents in the sample represent large, reputable firms in several different countries. The data was analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM) with several competing models. As comparisons are made at the sales force level, this dissertation introduces a new unit of analysis to the sales literature.

The study's hypotheses are largely confirmed. Findings indicate that sales managers' control, trust, and adaptability positively influence the sales force's performance; additionally, a moderating effect indicates that uncertainly influences the effect of control on sales force performance. Further identifying the important role of uncertainty, this dissertation is a springboard for additional analyses. This dissertation provides contributions to both theory and practice with its unique conceptualizations of conduct variables and its complex, integrative model.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hu, Michael Y., Shanker, Murali
Commitee:
School: Kent State University
Department: Marketing
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Marketing, Management
Keywords: Control systems, Sales management, Transaction cost analysis, Uncertainty
Publication Number: 3618901
ISBN: 978-1-303-87449-9
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