Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Summer 6-16-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Dr. Danny Norton Bellenger

Second Advisor

Dr. Wesley James Johnston

Third Advisor

Dr. Naveen Donthu


Social Exchange Theory (SET) is used widely to explain commercial business-to-business (B2B) relationship exchange. However, very little literature is dedicated to SET’s use in explaining business-to-government (B2G) relationship exchange. More specifically, little if any literature explores:

  • How customer/contractor relationship is developed during the SET search and selection process
  • The influence exerted by contractors to shape customer’s requirements and selection criteria (Positioning)
  • Impact of contractors’ communication interchange on development of perceived customer relationship (trust and commitment)
  • Success competing for contract award as measured by reputational trust and reputational performance satisfaction

This ethnomethodology match pair study utilizes Wilson’s (1995) search and selection phase of the relationship development model of SET as a lens to evaluate Business Development (BD) personnel interaction with customers in the B2G business sector impact award decisions. This study looks at the development of perceived trust, perceived commitment, positioning, and communications interchange by the contractor's BD personnel with government customers prior to the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) and how the customer's evaluation of reputational trust and reputational performance satisfaction impacted the contract award decision following formal proposal evaluation. In this way, the match pair approach looks at the 1) contractors’ evaluation of the customer at the point of the RFP’s release and 2) the customer’s evaluation of the contractor’s post-proposal submission allowing the researcher to contrast the two viewpoints as compared to the results—award decision.

This research expands the use of SETs to predict future contract awards based on the customer/contractor relationship exchange during the search and selection phase. Additionally, this research improves the understanding of how contractors influence the B2G customer’s requirements during the development process.

A key finding in this research was that Contractors who engage in active Communications Interchange to develop customer Perceived Trust and Perceived Commitment and Position themselves for upcoming contract opportunities prior to solicitation release indicated a trend showing a statistically significant, positive impact on the award decision. Perceived Trust and Perceived Commitment in the absence of Communications Interchange indicated a trend showing a statistically significant, negative impact on the award decision. Additional key findings from the customer debriefs indicated a trend showing Reputational Trust was a reliable predictor of the awardee. However, Reputational Performance Satisfaction consisting of the customer's overall rating of the contractor's past performance, was not a reliable predictor of the contract awardee.


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