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No manager is an island: culture in sensemaking of business networking

Maria Ivanova-Gongne (School of Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)
Lasse Torkkeli (School of Business and Management, Lappeenrannan Teknillinen Yliopisto, Lappeenranta, Finland)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 4 June 2018



This paper aims to investigate the role of culture in managerial sensemaking and conceptualization of business networking.


The authors apply qualitative methodology through the sensemaking approach on three Finnish and three Russian managers in mutual buyer–supplier business relationship dyads.


The results imply that the cultural background of the manager determines his perception of the level at which business networking occurs. Finnish managers conceptualize business networking as an organizational strategy, whereas their Russian counterparts conceptualize the phenomenon squarely at the individual level.

Research limitations/implications

The authors suggest that the underlying cause of the differences in the conceptualization of networking may be that Finnish business networking relies more on concepts derived from Western European business culture, whereas Russian networking relies more on the traditional culture. Consequently, they suggest that the concept of business networking in extant research may suffer from ethnocentricity. Limitations of the study include the limited extent of generalizations from its qualitative nature.

Practical implications

The results imply that business network relationships should be managed differently in different cultures, and that depending on the cultural background of the business partner, managing both the organizational and the individual levels of business networking is needed.


The study contributes to limited literature on culture and the role of individuals in managerial conceptualization of business networking. This is one of the rare studies to illustrate differences through individual sensemaking on both sides of the relationship dyad and account for both Western European and Russian market environments.



Ivanova-Gongne, M. and Torkkeli, L. (2018), "No manager is an island: culture in sensemaking of business networking", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 638-650.



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