Retrospective View and Thematic Analysis of Business-to-Business Relationships through Bibliometric Analysis

Priyanka Sharma, Surajit Saha, M. S. Balaji

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In the current business context, deliberations concerning business-to-business relationships (business relationships) and their importance to business firms are increasing. The extensive research in this area over the past three decades had created a need to synthetize existing research. This paper explores the development of business relationships domain concerning (1) publication trend, (2) influential publications, (3) prolific contributors, (4) themes of research, and (5) future research directions. Methodology/Approach: This study used the Web of Science core collection to identify influential articles, authors, journals, geographies, universities, and key research themes associated with business relationships. We developed a graphical analysis of the bibliographical material using VOSviewer. Network structures, including keywords co-occurrence and coauthorship analysis, further strengthened our understanding of this domain. Findings: The findings showed a consistent increase in research on business relationships since its inception. The content analysis of the keywords revealed four dominant research themes: the role of information and technology in maintaining business relationships, value creation in business relationships, customer satisfaction and loyalty in business relationships, and inter-organizational trust and governance in business relationships. Research Implications: This study provides a comprehensive view into research themes in business relationship area. The present study also helps researchers in identifying future directions of research in the business relationships area. Practical Implications: The four key dominant themes identified in the study present key managerial insights. According to the research themes, business firms should embrace digital technological tools, collaborate with customers and other stakeholders, develop loyal customers, and implement relational governance mechanisms to develop long-term business relationships. Originality/Value/Contribution of the paper: This study provides insight into the advancement of business relationships area by exploring the relevant body of knowledge, dominant research institutions, prominent topics, and future research possibilities. This includes articles published in top management journals from 1990–2020. This bibliometric study is a pioneering effort to map the domain of business-to-business relationships, wherein current insights and future research directions take center stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Business-to-Business Marketing
Issue number1
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished Online - 15 Feb 2022


  • Business-to-business relationships
  • VOSviewer
  • Web of science
  • bibliometric analysis
  • cluster analysis
  • co-occurrence analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Marketing


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