Developing a model of tolerance in client–agency relationships in advertising

Mark A.P. Davies
Heriot-Watt University School of Management and Languages

Dayananda Palihawadana
Leeds University Business School


Clients can behave very differently towards their advertising agencies when exposed to similar levels of service quality. With service quality embedded in relationships, agencies need to gauge their relationship value to their clients. A key test of this value is how clients respond to the challenges of dissatisfying service quality with their agencies. The most influential sources of account dissolution have been attributed to clients' perceptions of dissatisfying service quality based on either creativity (Doyle et al. 1980; Michell et al. 1992; Durden et al. 1997) or the quality of working relationships (Wackman et al. 1986/7; Kaynak et al. 1994; Beard 1996; Ghosh & Taylor 1999). We define service quality as both technical quality (the core service) and functional quality (how the service is delivered), as suggested by Gronroos (2000). The importance of delivering consistent service quality is that clients should expect future value from the relationship that can help to reduce switching (Blau 1964). The difficulty in managing these expectations is that advertising is hard to judge objectively, reflecting performance ambiguity (Halinen 1997; Kumar 1999).