Working more or working less? Contingent allocation of reseller effort in distribution channels

Stephen K. Kim, David I. Gilliland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because resellers in business markets typically represent multiple suppliers, a key variable in the study of channels of distribution is reseller allocation of effort, which involves understanding how much time and resources a reseller devotes to a supplier to help the supplier support its products. While allocation of effort is of vital importance to channel practitioners, it has been under studied in the academic literature. We propose a conceptual model based on the competing values framework, which suggests that firms balance different, changing, and incompatible challenges, making high performance outcomes difficult to attain. We suggest that these stressors, or channel concerns can be identified as an economic concern, a stability concern, a harmony concern, and an adaptation concern. Such concerns affect the allocation of reseller effort through two moderating conditions of the environment: territory volatility and territory stagnancy. An exploratory study featuring 26 semi-structured depth interviews and 162 responses from a survey of distributors in the brewing industry provide data for hypothesis testing. In general, good support is found for our model. Reseller allocation of effort is affected by the interaction of four channel concerns and two types of territory difficulties. Actionable managerial recommendations are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-56
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Issue number56
Early online date11 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • allocation of effort
  • channel performance
  • channel volatility
  • channels of distribution
  • competing concerns


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