GRA 6436 Managing Business-to-Business Relationships

GRA 6436 Managing Business-to-Business Relationships

Course code: 
GRA 6436
Department: 
Marketing
Credits: 
6
Course coordinator: 
Jon Bingen Sande
Stefan Worm
Product category: 
Master
Portfolio: 
MSc in Strategic Marketing Management
Semester: 
2019 Autumn
Active status: 
Active
Teaching language: 
English
Course type: 
One semester
Introduction

This course is designed to train and enhance the students’ knowledge and skills in business-to-business (B2B) relationship management. This is an important topic for three reasons. First, B2B transactions account for a large part of the economy. By some estimates, between half and two thirds of all transactions in a developed economy take place in B2B relationships and more than half of all employment in most countries is found in B2B markets. According to input-output tables from Statistics Norway, in Norway, B2B-transactions (sales to Norwegian companies and the Norwegian government as well as exports) account for 67% of total use (i.e., sales value). In comparison, household consumption accounts for 18% of total use.

Second, B2B marketing and managing relationships with business customers is different from consumer marketing. For example, individual transactions are usually much larger, more complex, and more strategic, and require more attention and dedicated organizational structures, such as contracts, that create incentives and promote collaboration.

Third, B2B marketing has changed markedly over the last couple of decades. For example, in most OECD countries the share of manufacturing has fallen while services now account for well over sixty percent of total gross value added. Notably, the majority of service value added is B2B. Also, among what we typically consider as “industry value chains” (as introduced by Michael Porter), we see major changes. More than sixty percent of Fortune 100 firms now offer “solutions” rather than pre-developed goods and services.

Understanding B2B marketing and in particular how to manage B2B relationships, is therefore essential for those who want to succeed in marketing and management roles within B2B businesses.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. have a basic understanding of the nature and role of B2B relationships;
  2. understand how firms can mitigate governance problems through various governance mechanisms, such as incentive contracts, relational contracts, detailed formal contracting, and network governance, to both motivate value creation and ensure efficient value capture;
  3. understand how value is created in B2B relationships through problem formulation and solution search; and
  4. know how development of B2B strategies relies on understanding B2B relationships and their attributes, and recognize the distinguishing characteristics of developing B2B strategies, such as product form decisions and value-based pricing.
Learning outcomes - Skills

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

  1. formulate different value-based strategies available to firms and suggest different ways for them to communicate value to customers;
  2. analyze B2B relationships to identify sources of governance problems that might prevent the parties from motivating each other to create value and share value efficiently, and suggests ways for the parties to mitigate those problems through better governance choices;
  3. analyze and suggest procedures that B2B firms can use to formulate problems and develop high-value customer solutions; and
  4. design effective marketing strategies for new and existing B2B products and services.
General Competence

Upon completion of the course, the students will have reflected on

  1. the nature and importance of B2B marketing for firms, their profitability and society at large;
  2. on the different kinds of governance problems that can arise in B2B relationships, and how they as B2B marketers can approach these problems in a manner that mitigate conflicts and opportunistic behavior;
  3. on how they, as individuals, can contribute to identifying and solving problems in B2B relationships;
  4. the special nature of B2B marketing strategies and how they differ from B2C marketing strategies, how they can account for the nature of B2B relationships in generating B2B relationships.
Course content

The course takes a model-based approach to teaching the topic of B2B relationship management. A model-based approach means that the students learn to understand and use models of how B2B firms behave and make decisions. The broad structure of the course is based on Brandenburger and Stuart’s (1996) model of value capture in value chains. This model makes a clear distinction between value creation and value capture, and different parts of the course address these different topics. To understand value creation in B2B relationships, we draw on marketing literature around customer solutions and the problem solving approach to strategy. To understand value capture in B2B relationships we draw on various transaction cost theories, such as agency theory, relational contracting theory and transaction cost economics. Finally, we use the insight into how firms create and capture value in B2B relationships as a basis for understanding how B2B firms can develop marketing strategies.

  • Introduction to the course and to B2B relationships and B2B marketing
  • Efficient value capture in B2B relationships
  • Creating value in B2B relationships
  • Developing B2B strategies for value creation and value capture
Teaching and learning activities

A set of required readings will be assigned for each meeting. The readings will be a mix of scientific articles and case descriptions. Students are expected to thoroughly read and analyze all of the required readings prior to each meeting.

The course will require the students to participate actively as it is based on lectures, discussions, case analyses and presentations. Students need to be well-prepared for each session. Course credit will be given based on quality of class participation, hand-in assignments, and a written exam.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

This is a course with continuous assessment (several exam components) and one final exam code. Each exam component is graded by using points on a scale from 0-100. The components will be weighted together according to the information in the course description in order to calculate the final letter grade for the examination code (course). Students who fail to participate in one/some/all exam elements will get a lower grade or may fail the course. You will find detailed information about the point system and the cut off points with reference to the letter grades when the course start.

At resit, all exam components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course.

Qualifications

All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.

Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationSupport materialsGroupingComment exam
Exam category:
Submission
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
GRA 64361
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
Internal examiner
Resit:
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
30No2 Month(s)Group/Individual (2 - 3)Written assignment
Exam category:
Activity
Form of assessment:
Class participation
Exam code:
GRA 64361
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
Internal examiner
Resit:
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
30No 1 Semester(s)Individual A document containing detailed criteria for how I evaluate class-participation will be provided in class. Generally, both quantity, quality, and attendance count towards class the participation grade. However, sheer quantity of comments with little depth or relevance to focal issues will not be rewarded. Note also that topics discussed in class, or dealt with in the assignment will be highly relevant for the final exam. Therefore, preparing well for class discussions will also help for preparing for the final written exam.
Exam category:
Submission
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
GRA 64361
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
Internal and external examiner
Resit:
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
40Yes3 Hour(s)
  • Bilingual dictionary
Individual Written examination
Exams:
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Weight:30
Invigilation:No
Grouping (size):Group/Individual (2-3)
Support materials:
Duration:2 Month(s)
Comment:Written assignment
Exam code:GRA 64361
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category:Activity
Form of assessment:Class participation
Weight:30
Invigilation:No
Grouping (size):Individual
Support materials:
Duration: 1 Semester(s)
Comment:A document containing detailed criteria for how I evaluate class-participation will be provided in class. Generally, both quantity, quality, and attendance count towards class the participation grade. However, sheer quantity of comments with little depth or relevance to focal issues will not be rewarded. Note also that topics discussed in class, or dealt with in the assignment will be highly relevant for the final exam. Therefore, preparing well for class discussions will also help for preparing for the final written exam.
Exam code:GRA 64361
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Weight:40
Invigilation:Yes
Grouping (size):Individual
Support materials:
  • Bilingual dictionary
Duration:3 Hour(s)
Comment:Written examination
Exam code:GRA 64361
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Continuous assessment
Grading scale: 
ECTS
Total weight: 
100
Workload activityDurationType of durationComment student effort
Teaching36Hour(s)Participation in lectures and class discussions
Prepare for teaching72Hour(s)Preparation for lectures and class-discussions. Notice that there is high complementarity between these activities and the other activities, so that preparing well for class and class discussions will make it easier to complete the assignment and to prepare for the final exam.
Group work / Assignments34Hour(s)Preparing the assignment.
Self study35Hour(s)Preparing for the final exam.
Examination3Hour(s)Final written exam.
Expected student effort:
Workload activity:Teaching
Duration:36 Hour(s)
Comment:Participation in lectures and class discussions
Workload activity:Prepare for teaching
Duration:72 Hour(s)
Comment:Preparation for lectures and class-discussions. Notice that there is high complementarity between these activities and the other activities, so that preparing well for class and class discussions will make it easier to complete the assignment and to prepare for the final exam.
Workload activity:Group work / Assignments
Duration:34 Hour(s)
Comment:Preparing the assignment.
Workload activity:Self study
Duration:35 Hour(s)
Comment:Preparing for the final exam.
Workload activity:Examination
Duration:3 Hour(s)
Comment:Final written exam.
Sum workload: 
180

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.