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The Generalizability of Commitment-Trust Theory in the Japanese Fast Fashion Industry

Abstract of the Student #Thesis: Tomoko Inoue

In the West, arm-length, adversarial transaction-oriented relationships were long exercised in the mainstream business world before a paradigm shift occurred in the early 90s (Dwyer, Schurr, and Oh, 1987). Thanks to the development of various conceptual frameworks, key relationship marketing values have been implemented in business practices across various fields in recent decades. In particular, since the introduction of the Commitment-Trust theory by Morgan and Hunt (1994) the business world in the West has become ever more aware of the importance of relationship marketing (RM) underpinned by such values as trust, commitment and cooperation. Accordingly, the conceptual tools to quantitatively examine these key variables have been developed with greater sophistication. Given that, now it is worthwhile examining the generalizability of the Commitment-Trust theory not only in the West, but also in the East, particularly in Japan where above-mentioned RM values have long been considered as vital. However, over the last two decades, Japanese economy has been slowing down and the country’s apparel consumers are opting for inexpensive fast-fashion merchandise. While the global phenomenon of fast-fashion continues to grow in Japan, it is important to assess how the key RM variables are still valued in the quick-paced fast-fashion industry in Japan.


In this research, the key constructs of the commitment-trust theory such as five antecedents and five outcomes are quantitatively tested in the Japanese fast-fashion industry. The questionnaire was administered via an online survey site. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were performed before a path analysis with relationship equation modelling tested the hypothesised model.


The survey result shows that the Commitment-Trust theory appears to be applicable in the Japanese fast-fashion industry to an extent that 8 out of 12 constructs that constitute the original model proposed by Morgan and Hunt have been supported. Despite that, some modifications have been made to the original model in order to increase the efficacy of the framework within the context in question.

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