Antecedents and Consequences of Customer – Company Identification: Expanding the Role of Relationship Marketing

Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 90, No. 3, pp. 574-585, 2005

14 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2010 Last revised: 29 May 2010

See all articles by Michael Ahearne

Michael Ahearne

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business

CB Bhattacharya

European School of Management and Technology (ESMT); Katz Graduate School of Business University of Pittsburgh

Thomas Gruen

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

This article presents an empirical test of organizational identification in the context of customer–company (C-C) relationships. It investigates whether customers identify with companies and what the antecedents and consequences of such identification are. The model posits that perceived company characteristics, construed external image, and the perception of the company’s boundary-spanning agent lead to C-C identification. In turn, such identification is expected to impact both in-role behavior (i.e., product utilization) as well as extra-role behavior (i.e., citizenship). The model was tested in a consultative selling context of pharmaceutical sales reps calling on physicians. Results from the empirical test indicated that customers do indeed identify with organizations and that C-C identification positively impacts both product utilization behavior and extra-role behavior even when the effect of brand perception is accounted for. Second, the study found that the organization’s characteristics as well as the salesperson’s characteristics contributed to the development of C-C identification.

Keywords: identification, social identity theory, extra-role behavior, branding, buying behavior

JEL Classification: M30

Suggested Citation

Ahearne, Michael and Bhattacharya, Chitrabhanu and Gruen, Thomas W., Antecedents and Consequences of Customer – Company Identification: Expanding the Role of Relationship Marketing (2005). Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 90, No. 3, pp. 574-585, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1583010

Michael Ahearne (Contact Author)

University of Houston - C.T. Bauer College of Business ( email )

334 Melcher Hall
Houston, TX 77204-6021
United States
713-743-4155 (Phone)
713-743-4572 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bauer.uh.edu/Directory/profile.asp?firstname=Michael&lastname=Ahearne

Chitrabhanu Bhattacharya

European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

Katz Graduate School of Business University of Pittsburgh ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA
United States
4123834212 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.pitt.edu/faculty/bhattacharya

Thomas W. Gruen

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs ( email )

1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7150
United States
719-255-3335 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uccs.edu/tgruen

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