Delegation of Pricing Authority to the Sales Force: An Agency-Theoretic Perspective of its Determinants and Impact on Performance
Frenzen Heiko, Hansen Ann-Kristin, Krafft Manfred, Mantrala, Murali K., Schmidt Simone
In industrial selling situations, the questions of what factors drive pricing authority delegation to salespeople and under what conditions price delegation is beneficial for the firm are often asked. To advance knowledge in this area, we (1) develop and empirically test a framework of important drivers of price delegation based on agency-theoretic research and (2) investigate the impact of price delegation on firm performance, taking into account agency theory variables as potential moderators. The study is based on data from a sample of 181 companies from the industrial machinery and electrical engineering industry in Germany. The results indicate that the degree of pricing delegation increases as information asymmetry between the salesperson and sales manager increases and as it becomes more difficult to monitor salespeople's efforts. Conversely, risk-aversion of salespeople is negatively related to the degree of price delegation. Furthermore, we find a positive effect of price delegation on firm performance, which is amplified when market-related uncertainty is high and when salespeople possess better customer-related information than their managers. Hence, our results clearly show that rigid, "one price fits all" policies are inappropriate in many B2B market situations. Instead, sales managers should grant their salespeople sufficient leeway to adapt prices to changing customer requirements and market conditions, especially in firms that operate in highly uncertain selling environments. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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