Introduction Nobody Likes a Middleman, But Most of us are Middlemen
IN JANUARY 2014, AFTER PRESIDENT OBAMA DELIVERED his annual State of the Union address to Congress, several Republican senators responded with predictable disappointment. One detractor, Mike Lee, the junior senator from Utah, focused his carefully prepared critique on what the government should do to make the American Dream a reality for more people. To show that the president had failed to keep his word about the problem of income inequality, Lee said that for the past five years, the president “has promised an economy for the middle class, but all he’s delivered is an economy for the middlemen.”1
KeywordsVenture Capitalist Fair Trade Travel Agent Reduce Transaction Cost Real Estate Agent
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- 6.Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (New York: Viking, 1995), 182. Although some of his predictions proved incorrect, Gates did accurately predict that those middlemen who continue to add value will thrive.Google Scholar
- 17.Scholars in various fields have proposed many different ways of classifying middleman roles. One pair of sociologists have suggested the roles of coordinator, liaison, representative, gatekeeper, and itinerant broker. See Roger V. Gould and Roberto M. Fernandez, “Structures of Mediation: a Formal Approach to Brokerage in Transaction Networks,” Sociological Methodology 19 (1989): 89–126. Marketing scholars have long catalogued middlemen’s functions, such as sharing risk, transporting goods, and others; for an overview, see Eric H. Shaw and D. G. Brian Jones, “A History of Schools of Marketing Thought,” Marketing Theory 5, no. 3 (2005): 239–81. My approach, which organizes middlemen’s roles by the type of problems they alleviate, combines elements from theories of marketing, economics, and sociology.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 23.Thomas Petzinger Jr., The New Pioneers: The Men and Women Who Are Transforming the Workplace and Marketplace (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999): 61.Google Scholar
- 30.Other brands in this quadrant were AIG (bailed out by taxpayers), BP (following the fatal explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico), and Marlboro (the cigarette brand). See Nicolas Kervyn, Susan T. Fiske, and Chris Malone, “Brands As Intentional Agents Framework: How Perceived Intentions and Ability Can Map Brand Perception,” Journal of Consumer Psychology 22, no. 2 (2012): 166–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar