Although individual and business actors are often mentioned as an important part of clarifying the stages that firms and their networks go through from starting up to becoming established, most studies have emphasised activities and resources rather than actors. Therefore, more needs to be known about how actors shape and are shaped through and within firms’ networks.
To clarify the process of reshaping business in networks, the focus of this study is on the role of actors in firms’ networks during the main stages of development. The major events for each stage are described in terms of how these events affect the interaction, alignment and interfaces between individual actors and business actors with a focus on individual and collective interests.
The individual actor plays a key role in the start-up stage, whereas the business actor has a key role in the final stage when the firm has become an important player in the industry. In later stages, the individual actor plays a gradually decreasing role and the business actor an increasing role. However, it appears that an analysis of the interplay between the two levels of analysis provides deeper insight into the shaping.
This study provides new insights into the role of the actor and how the actor shapes and is shaped by a firm and its network in different stages. Further, the study contributes by clarifying actors’ roles on two levels of analysis and shows the roles of interests, conflicts, interfaces and alignment in shaping firms and their networks.
Freytag, P.V. and Philipsen, K. (2019), "Shaping business through and within networks: evolving from a traditional to a digital firm", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 1079-1092. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-10-2018-0302
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