The Outside Salesman: Interorganizational Link

by Henry Pruden



The article focuses on questions concerning the salesman's human relationships, his group affiliations, and his adaptability. The interaction between an outside salesman and buyers representing other organizations brings about an interorganizational relationship having many elements in common with the lateral relationships of partial conflict between departments within a single organization. Moreover, the outside salesman, who typically works by himself away from his employer's premises, interacts with his customers within an interorganizational and social context that is a logical extension of the social system within one organization. The position of the outside salesman may be seen in two ways, the salesman as a linking pin and as a man in the middle. Some newly emerging concepts in organization theory promise to yield important insights into the operation of the outside salesman. Sociologist Robert Dubin has constructed a theory of organization that is comprehensive, yet flexible enough for analyzing the behavior of outside salesmen as they participate in interorganizational exchange relations. The key components of Dubin's theory are power, authority, and status relations, and technological, formal, non-formal, and informal behavior systems.

California Management Review

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