Relationship managers’ negotiations: the interplay of self-construal, interpersonal trust and subjective values on predicting customer satisfaction

  • Adjunt Professor
    Sobral, Pr Filipe
    Getulio Vargas Foundation, Brésil
    Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration
  • Juliana Mansour, Brésil


Since 2008, the global economy has been suffering one of the most significant economic crises of recent times. Considering this financial background and several impacts to economies and societies all over the world, organizations had to deal with changes and guarantee their performance and competitiveness. In this sense, one of the key elements of financial institutions is the role of the account manager or relationship manager, who facilitates and coordinates sales efforts, and represents the customer’s interests.

Although objective behavioral outcomes clearly represent an important aspect of negotiation performance, researchers have criticized the relative lack of attention paid to social psychological factors in negotiation (Curhan et al., 2006). Considering this context, it seems logic that having an independent or interdependent self-construal should have different impacts on behaviors and outcomes in negotiation (Amanatullah, Morris, & Curhan, 2008). Moreover, interpersonal trust is equally critical in effective negotiations (Kimmel et al., 1980).

In the present research we examine managers self-construal (independent vs. interdependent) as an antecedent of what they subjective value in negotiation, positing that this self-defining knowledge structure motivates managers to value different aspects when negotiating with customers. While independent self-construal would be positively related to feelings about the self and with instrumental outcomes, interdependent self-construal would be related to the negotiation Rapport. We also examine the role of interpersonal trust between manager and customer, as increasing or decreasing the strength of manager’s self-construal as preceding what s/he subjective value. Focusing on the importance of going beyond objective and financial goals, we investigate customer satisfaction as the negotiation outcome.

This study was conducted in one of the biggest financial institutions in Brazil. Relationship managers received a letter from the HR Department and an email was sent to each manager corporate address, containing a link with the survey. A final sample of 532 responses from three different regions was collected. To test our model and hypothesis we employed partial least square (PLS) modeling, using SmartPLS.

Results showed that interdependent self-construal was positively related to rapport in negotiation. Concerning independent self-construal, both feelings about the self and the instrumental outcomes were positively related. However, feelings about the instrumental outcome decreased when managers showed cognitive-based trust in their customers. Regarding the self, trust didn’t influence how independent managers’ felt about themselves in the negotiations. Moreover, affect-based trust also had no influence on interdependent managers’ rapport. Finally, our results showed that managers’ feelings about the rapport are strongly related to costumer satisfaction. However, feelings about the self and the instrumental outcome did not show to be negatively related to satisfaction. Feelings about the instrumental outcomes were not related, while feelings about the self, although marginally, showed to be positively related to customer satisfaction.

Our study contributes to the growing movement in the negotiation domain that aims to empirically deepen the role of affect and emotions (Thompson, Wang & Gunia, 2010). The results suggest that, with or without interpersonal trust, managers’ self-construals lead to different feelings about a negotiation, whereas customer might benefit by integrating all the elements of what their managers’ subjective value.


Subjective value, satisfaction, self-construals, relationship managers

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