Role conflict and the industrial salesman.

  • Ian Strachan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


There is an increasing understanding of industrial selling and the complexity of the industrial salesman's role. It is now recognised that the salesman's position makes him particularly susceptible to role-conflict. This study concentrates upon the reactions of industrial salesmen to specific selling situations containing role-conflict. The aims of the investigation are to find out how salesmen react; how they perceive the various sales situations; and how they possibly differ from one another in their behaviour. The research differs from previous work in the area, mainly through its focus upon particular work situations. Case illustrations of these situations were compiled as scenarios, and presented in unstructured interviews to salesmen. Their taped responses were transcribed and content analysed. Additionally, a questionnaire was applied relating to the scenarios. Two systems of classification were used in the study. The first, borrowed from industrial buying behaviour research, categorises the range of industrial sales situations. The second, is developed from the literature and field work, and categorises the possible responses of the salesmen. The systems are not only fundamental to this investigation, but their application and development provide useful instruments for future research. The findings contribute to management's understanding of those selling situations which cause greatest difficulty for their salesmen. There is also an increased awareness and knowledge of different styles of behaviour and individual Kinds of reaction. There are resulting implications for management decisions, selection and training processes. Further avenues of research are indicated and the exploration of these, combined with the findings from this study, will aid the development of useful models of industrial selling behaviour.
Date of Award1984
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

Cite this