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. Introduction It is often acknowledged that one of the main goals of marketing is to build and sustain strong relationships with customers (De Wulf et al., 2001; Palmatier et al., 2009). Morgan and Hunt (1994, p. 22) define relationship marketing (RM) as “all marketing activities directed towards establishing, developing, and maintaining successful relational exchanges” and their theory of customer trust-commitment has served as the default model for most RM research. Prior research in business-to-customer domain recognizes that RM investments (RMI) by marketers augment customer trust and commitment which in turn affect customer behaviour, thus leading to better performance including sales growth and profits (Morgan and Hunt, 1994; Sirdeshmukh et al., 2002). Following their meta-analysis that tested the trust-commitment model of RM, Palmatier et al. (2006) concluded that many important mediating mechanisms between RMI and performance outcomes are being ignored. This existing model of RM is based on the cognitively oriented social exchange theory (Dwyer et al., 1987) that has its focus on costs and benefits of RM, which leads us to explain why RM research has not looked into customer feelings and behaviours. Towards this end, a few researchers have proposed theoretical arguments in support of the key role of the principle of reciprocity in RM (e.g., De Wulf et al., 2001; Morales, 2005). However, empirical research that integrates reciprocity into RM models remains limited. Our review of literature across diverse disciplines such as marketing, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics has led us to conclude that gratitude represents the emotional core of reciprocity and a major motivational force that develops and mainta... ... middle of paper ... ...tives will lead to feelings of gratitude which in turn will affect future behavior (Tsang, 2006). We also expect the amount of risk undertaken by the seller in providing the RMI to affect gratitude. Contractual or non-contractual relationships are built with investment of time, effort, and have some sort of cost involved (Palmatier et al., 2009), and a risk of subjective possibility that the investment may not lead to anticipated reciprocal behaviour (Chiles & McMackin, 1996). For example, an out of stock seller might go against the company policy and take the risk to recommend his competitor to the customer very well aware that the possibility of his present and future relationship with that customer will be lost. This will make the customer perceive the risk that the seller has undertaken and therefore, should feel more obligated and grateful (Wood et al., 2008).

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