Triads: A review and analytical framework

Jaakko Siltaloppi*, Stephen L. Vargo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Triads examine the associations among three actors, involving, at a minimum, the analysis of two dyadic ties among three interrelated actors. By making apparent the indirect ties bearing on actors, the triad is the smallest unit of analysis for a network. Despite extensive conceptual and empirical work, little systematic attention is given to the triad in the marketing literature. This article reviews literature spanning multiple academic disciplines and makes three contributions. First, it provides an overview of the triad concept combining sociological insights with more recent work emerging in operations management and marketing. Second, the article identifies three distinct forms of triadic relationships in existing literature: (1) brokerage, focused on the action of the third between two others; (2) mediation, describing different mechanisms by which a dyadic relationship affects and is affected by a relationship with a third party; and (3) coalition, capturing the configuration and evolution of ties in the three-actor system as a whole. Finally, this article develops an initial research agenda for triadic marketing research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-414
Number of pages20
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brokerage
  • exchange
  • mediation
  • network
  • system
  • third party
  • triad

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