Business relationship

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Relationship (or business relationship ; English business relation ) is a long term, to economic objectives oriented interaction between business entities from which a plurality of transactions is apparent.


Companies , organizations , private households or the state and its subdivisions ( public administration , state-owned companies ) are involved in a business relationship as economic subjects , between which performance and consideration are exchanged. A one-off transaction between business partners does not count as a business relationship, because business relationships are characterized by durability, repetition of transactions and trust. A customer loyalty that lasts for a longer period of time is required . Typical business relationships are, for example, long-term obligations based on permanent behavior or recurring individual services extending over a longer period of time ( rent , lease , credit , successive delivery contract ). This durability is based among other things on the mutual trust in the reliability of the other business partner. Trust means that part of the control costs that would be incurred in individual transactions are eliminated. The long-term business relationship exists in particular with regular customers and house banks whose business relationships have personal preferences . In companies, customer relationship management ensures the consistent maintenance of long-term business relationships and evaluates their economic benefits.

The term business relationship is predominantly used in the legal system. As early as January 1891, the Reichsgericht (RG) commented on the business relationship: “Although ... a business relationship between two people is initially nothing more than the coincidental coexistence of business transactions that these people have concluded with each other and fulfill with each other, it does develop frequent business contact ... a relationship of trust in which the maintenance of good faith to a greater degree and to a greater extent than is the necessary practice in dealings between people who are strangers to one another ”. It thus expressed that a business relationship creates a relationship of trust which cannot exist in a one-off transaction. The business relationship indicates that the repeated conclusion of contracts between the same contracting parties can establish a special legal relationship overarching the individual contractual relationships. The business relationship is only an element of the offense in a few commercial law provisions , for example in Section 89b HGB ( commercial agent ), Section 355 (1) HGB ( current account ) or Section 362 (1) HGB ( silence of a businessman ).


With regard to business partners, a distinction is made between business-to-business ( English company-company ), business-to-consumer ( English company-consumer ) and business-to-administration ( English company-public administration ). Business-to-business is business relationships between companies, e.g. the connection between commercial debtors and commercial creditors , between credit institutions ( interbank trade , correspondent banks) or between banks and large companies ( bank details ). Business-to-consumer describes the relationships between companies and consumers (e.g. banks for consumer loans , buyers in supermarkets ), business-to-administration relates to the business relationship between companies and public administration ( authorities , public companies , municipal companies ). The consumer-to-consumer relationship between consumers, for example via electronic commerce such as eBay , is not (yet) viewed as a permanent business relationship.

The business relationships between individual economic entities can be broken down as follows:

Economic subject Private households Companies public budgets
Private households Consumer-to-consumer Consumer-to-business Consumer-to-Administration
Companies Business-to-consumer Business-to-business Business-to-Administration
public budgets Administration-to-consumer Administration-to-business Administration-to-administration

Economic background

Real goods or intangible goods are exchanged for nominal goods between business partners . Their economic value is the market price that the buyer has to pay the seller on delivery (or sooner or later). To increase customer loyalty, the seller can use various marketing instruments ( loyalty discounts , free delivery ), while the buyer can create trust by paying on time . These are regularly value creation partners who are interested in fulfilling their economic goal. According to the transaction cost theory , the establishment of a long-term business relationship takes place on the basis of efficiency advantages , because the transaction costs could decrease. According to Albert O. Hirschman , maintaining a business relationship is closely related to customer satisfaction . As part of the hold-up problem , it is discussed whether the two business partners are subject to the lock-in effect and are bound to one another in this business relationship. This creates the risk of opportunistic behavior, because one partner could impose trading conditions on the other that would not be able to adequately cover its initial investment costs.

Web links

Wiktionary: Business connection  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Frank Jacob: Business Relationships and the Institutions of Market Exchange. 2002, p. 4.
  2. ^ RG, judgment of January 31, 1891, RGZ 27, 118, 121
  3. Hartmut Oetker: The permanent obligation and its termination. 1994, p. 124.
  4. Christian Brandt, From contract management to inter-company communication , 2009, p. 8
  5. Sebastian Kleist: Management of cross-cultural business relationships. 2006, p. 11 f.
  6. Jürgen Trumpfheller: Customer loyalty in the insurance industry. 2005, p. 73, FN 265.
  7. ^ Albert O. Hirschman: Migration and contradiction: reaction to a decline in performance in companies, organizations and states . 1974, p. 89.