Anonymous competitive markets are often contrasted with relational exchange. Much actual trade falls between the two: trading is not anonymous, for the participants know each other, but they have only a weak bond. The current paper examines this middle ground and discusses the institutions behind relational trading. It distinguishes active relations, as envisaged by the relational exchange literature, from passive ones associated with brand loyalty and relationship marketing. What we describe as a market in everyday language is seldom anonymous and includes diverse seller-buyer links that merit closer attention from economists.
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- relational exchange