The Value of Professional Ties in B2B Markets

70 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2021 Last revised: 27 Sep 2023

See all articles by Navid Mojir

Navid Mojir

Harvard Business School

Sriya Anbil

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: August 1, 2022

Abstract

We study how a particular form of social ties (i.e., professional ties proxied by past employment) affects price and profitability in business-to-business (B2B) markets. While most of the work on social ties focuses on information diffusion in business-to-consumer markets, we ask: Do B2B buyers receive higher or lower prices from sellers with whom they have professional ties? Answering this question is challenging because it is difficult to observe B2B prices, the individual decision-makers (IDMs), and elements of differentiation that drive price variation. Moreover, potentially endogenous formation of social ties exacerbates the identification challenge. We resolve these challenges by leveraging proprietary data from the Federal Reserve on the repo market, the largest market for short-term loans with daily transactions of over $2 trillion. In addition, we use financial disclosure laws to unmask IDMs at sellers and use LinkedIn to reveal their ties. We leverage exogenous movement of IDMs in and out of decision-making positions to identify the effect of professional ties on price. We show that a seller IDM, who is the buyer's former employee, charges the buyer 1/4 basis points more than other buyers with no ties (i.e., 25 basis points relative to median price, or 13% of average cross-sectional price variance). The mechanism driving this price increase is “supply reliability.” Sellers with a professional tie to the buyer act more reliably towards that buyer during supply-demand imbalances. We perform several robustness checks, including leveraging the Federal Reserve's monetary policy actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to show that an exogenous increase in the aggregate cash supply diminishes the effect of professional ties, consistent with a supply reliability mechanism. Our work suggests professional ties can affect B2B prices beyond observable supply-demand dynamics and provide value for sellers and buyers.

Keywords: professional ties, social ties, business-to-business marketing, B2B marketing, repo, individual connections, B2B pricing, pricing, decision-making in financial markets

JEL Classification: M31,G23,G12,G21

Suggested Citation

Mojir, Navid and Anbil, Sriya, The Value of Professional Ties in B2B Markets (August 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3967275 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3967275

Navid Mojir (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

Sriya Anbil

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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