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Article

Håkan Håkansson and Alexandra Waluszewski

The purpose of this paper is to argue that if the authors want to understand the role of heaviness, space and journey in innovation, the authors have to start with the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to argue that if the authors want to understand the role of heaviness, space and journey in innovation, the authors have to start with the interaction itself, that is the exchange process taking place between economic actors. Three major aspects will be considered: the first is that heaviness, space and journey imply restrictions, the second is that these aspects can be positively utilised in innovation processes, and the third is their joint importance to contemporary policy. All innovation processes must bypass and build on existing investments in social and material resources, related across time and space.

Design/methodology/approach

The theoretical foundation is a basic IMP observation: exchange has a content. Exchange is captured as an interaction process that creates specific imprints on material and social resources involved – across firm boundaries, and across time and space. The methodology is a consequence of the research question and the theoretical point of departure and is based on three earlier IMP studies, where heaviness has been measured in different ways. The authors utilize two earlier presented case studies to focus on the heaviness, space and journey dimensions.

Findings

Three main aspects are discussed: the first aspect concerns the need for utilisation of others heaviness in order for the innovation to gain heaviness in itself. The second aspect concerns the consequences that the search for heaviness has for the creation of an innovation space. The third aspect concerns the innovation journey; the specific interaction patterns between significant actors as well as places hosting heavy using, producing and developing activities created through interactions over time.

Research limitations/implications

In order to change or to establish a new economic exchange interface, there is an urgent need to be aware of and utilise heaviness, to find out in what way existing investments made in related interfaces can be taken advantage of. In order to do that, there is a need for a better understanding of the function of heaviness, spatial and journey aspects included.

Practical implications

In contemporary policy, certain heaviness is recognised, however, only in a non-business developing setting. The first conclusion is that heaviness of established producing and using settings is a policy blind spot. This implies that analytical policy approaches are not equipped for recognitions or of estimations of heaviness, nor as a hindrance or as a possibility in producing and using settings. The second conclusion is that the policy definition of the role of place implies neglecting the innovation space. The third conclusion is that there is a need for policy to recognise the innovation journey and its consequences.

Social implications

If the policy is expected to have regional effects, policy analysis has to start out from the established heaviness of the region and consider how it can be taken advantage of.

Originality/value

The paper draws attention to an aspect neglected in policy attempts to boost innovation, that the mobilising support has to come from actors representing heavy producing and using networks – and that these already have space and journey characteristics. A peripheral actor can come up with a suggestion for change – but it cannot alone mobilise the resources necessary for an innovation to get a space and journey in relation to established resource constellations.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

Keywords

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Article

Hakan Hakansson and Alexandra Waluszewski

The prestigious policy advisor, World Economic Forum (WEF), underlines that “governments, businesses and civil society organisations” must find “new ways of tackling the…

Abstract

Purpose

The prestigious policy advisor, World Economic Forum (WEF), underlines that “governments, businesses and civil society organisations” must find “new ways of tackling the systemic risks that affect us all”. Paradoxically, policy’s and politicians’ great trust in the basic forces of the business world is accompanied with a disinterest in how they are captured in analytical approaches. The purpose of this paper is to discuss what consequences different approaches to interaction present for policy attempts to use business forces to achieve change.

Design/methodology/approach

The discussion of theoretical approaches available for policy aiming to use the basic forces of business exchange for efficiency, innovation and industrial/societal renewal in specific directions is designed as follows: The authors identify two main choices of dimensions in the conceptualisation of business exchange, based on the acknowledgement of thin or thick interactions. The authors discuss how these are related to how interaction patterns appear in empirical studies of exchange. Based on the identification of conceptualisations and empirical findings, the authors discuss the ability for the public sphere to use the basic characteristics of business exchange to cope with societal challenges.

Findings

Research experiences on thick interaction and its consequences, that businesses and their input and output are interdependent, systemic and promote certain development paths, are largely ignored in approaches used in policy circles. Instead, policy advisors’ and policy commissioners’ understanding of business interaction patterns is coloured by mainstream economies assumption of thin interaction. The content and function of the market as depicted in this tradition are within EU, the basic foundation for legal regulations and limitations of businesses interaction patterns. Simply put, actors as well as the activities and resources that they are related to are approached as independent.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is focussed on the conceptual underpinnings of contemporary policy advices and commissions. This paper does not investigate deviations from these advices and commission made by policy practitioners on a local level

Practical implications

The message given by theoretical approaches recognising thick interaction is that the thicker it is, the more intervening, broader and more differentiated the policy tools and measures have to be. But that also puts high demands on policy actors on all levels to have both general and specific knowledge about thick interaction patterns. However, given the big challenges the society is facing, increased speed of change and, above all, increased influence over the direction of change are needed.

Social implications

WEF recognises the systemic features of the contemporary challenges to society with climate change in the foreground, and it stresses the need for finding new ways for public bodies and private businesses to cooperate to solve this. This implies the need to consider what theoretical approaches that should guide policy advice and measures. Hence, there is a need for the use of more sophisticated analytical approaches to the collective level, instead of those relying on that the interaction pattern of the business world is thin, straightforward and easy manageable.

Originality/value

This paper takes a novel approach to policy advice and policy commissions through focussing on what kind of theoretical concepts and approaches that actually are available for policy advisors and policy commissioners interested in using the basic forces of business exchange to increase efficiency and innovation in the public setting in general and furthermore to solve specific problems and to create new, specific development paths. Hence, both approaches adopted and neglected by policy are considered.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 35 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

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Article

Alexandra Waluszewski, Hakan Hakansson and Ivan Snehota

One of the most salient contemporary societal trends is the increasing amount of public–private collaborations. In spite of the increasing awareness of the need to…

Abstract

Purpose

One of the most salient contemporary societal trends is the increasing amount of public–private collaborations. In spite of the increasing awareness of the need to scrutinise the promises of public–private partnership (PPP), there is an important but seldom-asked question: How does the assumed interaction pattern behind PPP correspond with the interaction pattern appearing in empirical studies of the content of business exchange? The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the discrepancy between the expected and actual pattern of interactions in PPPs.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a specific PPP concerning the construction of a Nya Karolinska (NKS) hospital building, which ended up as an economic and functional disaster. With an interactive approach as point of departure (Håkansson et al. 2009; Waluszewski, Håkansson, Snehota, 2017), this paper investigates a) the interaction pattern of the business landscape expected by policy/politicians in the NKS construction case and b) how the assumed interaction pattern appears in relation to the interaction pattern of the business landscape outlined in empirical studies of exchange, in the business landscape in general and of the construction setting in particular.

Findings

Given that the public side is neglecting the interactivity and interdependency of the private business setting, the disappointment with the NKS PPP project does not appear as an odd deviation. Rather, as a natural consequence of a public side expecting autonomous actors able to deliver innovation, quality and cost control just because they are exposed to competitive forces – but in reality interfacing with private actors which interests are directed to interdependent investments in place; own and related suppliers’.

Research limitations/implications

The investigation of the political expectations behind the NKS PPP case was concentrated on two types of data. Original reports expressing the political view of the interaction pattern of the private setting have been used. Four published studies focussing on different aspects of the NKS process, which discuss the political view of the private setting, was also used.

Practical implications

Be it private–private or public–private, to be beneficial for both sides of the exchange interface, both sides have to engage in the exchange – with representatives with knowledge and experiences of all direct and indirect related social and material resources that will be affected. The need to mobilise and involve representatives with extensive experiences of specific resource combinations of both sides of the exchange interface; the public as well as the private, does not disappear simply because it is assumed away.

Social implications

The competitive forces of the private setting are by politicians and policy assumed to function in an automatic way; breeding cost efficiency, quality and innovation. Furthermore, there is also an assumption of speed and ease of change. With the trust in these characteristic sof the private setting at hand, politicians have a “cart blanche” to withdraw from direct involvement in the creation of producer-user interfaces.

Originality/value

The paper underlines that as soon as the public-private exchange concerns goods that cannot be transformed to or treated as homogeneous ‘commodities’, as most often is the case of in this type of processes, there are reasons to be extremely careful in the design of the interaction interface. There are differences both in resource and activity structures between the two sides of the exchange interface and these differences have to be actively dealt with.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

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Article

Håkan Håkansson and Alexandra Waluszewski

Behind the simple connotation “business exchange” a complex empirical phenomenon can be observed, including using, producing and developing activities, taking place in…

Abstract

Purpose

Behind the simple connotation “business exchange” a complex empirical phenomenon can be observed, including using, producing and developing activities, taking place in different contexts, influenced by ideas stemming from both practice and mainstream economic thinking. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the methodological challenges of research on business exchange in general and of IMP research in particular. Furthermore, to discuss how the authors can avoid the contemporary “methodomania” trend, where the researchers’ focus is directed toward accounting for which rules were followed.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a methodological distinction made by Peter Galison (1997) in his investigation of the interdependence among research approach, methodology, and research object in microphysics. Studies based on: “image,” allows data in its original form, and “logic,” requires the translation of original data and therefore relies “fundamentally on statistical demonstrations.” This distinction is utilized to investigate what is specific with business exchange as a research object, and how IMP researchers have dealt with the methodological challenges it presents. Furthermore, the paper considers these different methodological approaches in relation to theory and understanding of the research object.

Findings

The main conclusion is the huge importance the image-based methodology has had for the development of the IMP network approach. From the very start the IMP project has been focused on the production of a large set of, in Galison’s terminology, “hard facts” about the existence, substance and importance of interaction and the relationships it is creating. This image-based methodology has been utilized in the development of a set of imaging instruments, each with an ability to picture the content and consequences of business exchange.

Research limitations/implications

Two methodological challenges which are specific for business research are identified. One is that “images” in terms of personal accounts on the organizing of production and use of economic resources are marbled with ideas, stemming from a mix of theories, textbooks and practice on how to do this. The second is that established theories create a “logic” in terms of the combination of “assumptions” and established “accounting principles” that produce a number of outputs interpreted as primary data and objective accounts of the characteristics of the production and use of economic resources.

Practical implications

IMP’s image-based methodology and the development of specific imaging instruments can increase the exactness in the pictures of the content and consequences of business interaction, and also, catch the range of its substance. Considering this circumstance could be a way to avoid “methodomania” and to breed awareness of the relationship among research object, methodology, and research approach.

Social implications

IMP’s image-based methodology can increase the awareness that the logic-based model of business exchange has been ascribed an advisory role in terms of how companies should act in order to survive and prosper: as sellers and buyers in relation to each other, and also in relation to others.

Originality/value

First, the paper underlines that image-based methodologies can be used to produce “hard facts” about the existence, substance, and importance of business interaction. Second, the paper shows how the methodology of mainstream economics tends to be “the elephant in the room,” both in approaches resting on “image” and “logic.” It addresses the importance of making the elephant visible and investigates what is happening in its shadow.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

Keywords

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Article

Håkan Håkansson and Lars-Erik Gadde

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the development of research based on the IMP approach during the four decades since the inauguration in 1976. The paper presents…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the development of research based on the IMP approach during the four decades since the inauguration in 1976. The paper presents a network analysis of IMP research based on one of the central IMP frameworks: the ARA model.

Design/methodology/approach

The main activity analysed is the annual IMP conference. The development over time is described by comparison of three conferences (1984, 1998 and 2012) with regard to the themes of the papers presented. In addition, some joint research projects are described. The most central resources are the research frameworks and findings presented in books and journals. To illustrate this dimension, the authors have traced all IMP publications that had been cited more than 100 times in 2013. In the actor layer, the authors investigated the development over time of the distribution of publications and conference presentations on research groups.

Findings

The paper shows how IMP has evolved into a research network around common themes of which business relationships and networks are the most significant. The activities of various research groups have become increasingly interlinked through joint research programmes, annual conferences and seminars, a website and a dedicated journal.

Originality/value

The paper provides a detailed illustration of the development of the IMP network. The description of this process is of general relevance as an example of how research ideas can develop and become established in terms of a distinct research network.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

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Article

Synnøve Rubach, Thomas Hoholm and Håkan Håkansson

The purpose of this paper is to present a longitudinal case study of a regional innovation policy initiative, in which ideas with regard to how innovation might be…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a longitudinal case study of a regional innovation policy initiative, in which ideas with regard to how innovation might be facilitated were changing over time. Through the scrutiny of insights in industrial network studies (IMP), the authors seek to shed light on the challenges created by policy interventions aimed at constructing complementary networks for the facilitation of innovation. That is to say, the authors endeavour to understand the interfaces between innovation networks and industrial networks, and the way in which they may influence innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on a longitudinal case study of four successive regional innovation projects in Norway. Data are drawn from relevant policy documents and project documentations, as well as from participatory observation of application processes and project activities.

Findings

This study shows that regional innovation policy concerns first and foremost the interaction within and between relatively established diverse networks, which affects both structuring and restructuring. Changes in innovation policy required the re-configuring of constellations of business networks, research networks and policy networks. All initiatives required mobilisation input by persistent actors – often boundary organisations or researchers. The construction of innovation networks served as an instrument in the production of new interfaces between businesses, researchers and policy makers. The use and usefulness of these networks as perceived by the business actors were heavily influenced by the way in which the networks were configured.

Research limitations/implications

Generalisation based on in-depth qualitative case research requires further testing across similar and varying cases, and there have hitherto been relatively few studies of the interfaces between industrial and innovation networks. Despite this it can be argued that the conceptual distinction between constructed and emerging networks is a productive one in the study of networked innovation dynamics. During the research into this longitudinal case, it has been interesting to observe the way in which innovation research, and thus its influence on innovation policy, has changed over time. It would be beneficial if further studies were to be conducted on the way in which this has played out.

Practical implications

The administration of the public funding of innovation network activities requires great care. Where innovation policy initiatives are closely related to established industrial networks, it may be possible to strengthen innovation dynamics, challenge established practices and conceptions, and contribute to expanding, or even initiate innovation activities. In the first place, new activities need to be initiated in a way that supports the long-term development of actual business networks; and second, innovation policy bodies should be prepared to stimulate activity over longer periods of time.

Originality/value

This paper engages in, and combines, two parallel and rarely interacting debates on, respectively, innovation within innovation policy (innovation systems, clusters, networks) and industrial network studies (IMP and others). The authors make an “ideal type” distinction between alternative “constructed” networks and “emerging” networks, and the way in which they influence innovations.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

Keywords

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Article

Per Ingvar Olsen and Håkan Håkansson

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the roles of deals in innovations processes, based on the definition of a deal as the interaction of social-material value-creating…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the roles of deals in innovations processes, based on the definition of a deal as the interaction of social-material value-creating processes with money-handing processes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a study of the historical emergence of transaortic valve implantation (TAVI) as an innovative new technology in the area of thoracic surgery in a global setting. The study is based on a combination of interviews and secondary data analysis.

Findings

The authors found that deals play important roles in innovation processes as critical junctions that mark entries to different phases and generate major shifts in location as well as combination of resources, activities and actors. These shifts include radical changes in control, where actors in possession of resources necessary to bring the project through the next phase, move in to take control – thereby expanding their businesses to new growth niches. Based on the analysis of seven deals, the authors argue that the innovation process is a combined push and pull process where later stage entrepreneurial interests play very significant roles. Deals may also represent radical turning points and moves of the projects that set the project off in a different direction, usually also associated with shifting ownership control rights through the innovation and scaling process. The authors also argue that inventions in the periphery will tend to move to the areas with the most competent relevant business networks capable of adopting and expanding the innovation to a global business operation. The innovation process is not primarily about creating new resources and activities, but about recombining existing resources, competencies and activities. Supplier networks play particularly important roles in these processes.

Research limitations/implications

The authors suggest that the study indicates that IMP researchers should turn more attention to studying business deals and financial flows and influences – in particular in studies of innovations and innovation processes – to investigate the mechanisms by which new innovations interact with and transform existing business networks.

Social implications

This work highlights why and how an innovation that may initiate anywhere in the periphery, will tend to move to the most competent and capable networks around the globe, that are the most relevant to the needs of the innovation project. Hence, the more powerful business networks and eco-systems will tend to pull interesting inventions in from their periphery, and grow them effectively.

Originality/value

The paper expands the efforts in IMP theorizing to include financial/monetary interactions more explicitly into business network theory. It also aims at clarifying core IMP arguments toward entrepreneurship research, in particular research on international new ventures.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

Keywords

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Article

Hakan Hakansson and Björn Axelsson

This paper centers round outsourcing. The purpose of this paper is to direct attention to outsourcing in the public sector and focus on what could be special when…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper centers round outsourcing. The purpose of this paper is to direct attention to outsourcing in the public sector and focus on what could be special when considering outsourcing in such contexts. The authors try to portray the business activities in private and in public sector settings and identify some similarities and – more importantly – some significant differences.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use two analytical tools, a classification system of various interfaces between a selling and buying firm and a two-fold scheme for strategic analyses of outsourcing or not as well as in what ways to outsource. These tools have been developed in studies of private sector outsourcing but are applicable, as tools, also in public sector contexts. Two empirical cases from public sector outsourcing are used to illustrate options and obstacles for outsourcing ventures in the public sector.

Findings

The analytical discussion aims at pointing out when and how outsourcing should be a straightforward choice in the public sector. The authors also point at situations when it is a much more complicated process and thus restricted.

Originality/value

This study gives strong support for the need to identify which theoretical model has been used by the involved organizations in their evaluation of the situation.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 35 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

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Article

Malena Ingemansson Havenvid, Håkan Håkansson and Åse Linné

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between social-material interaction and the monetary aspects of business relationships in the construction…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between social-material interaction and the monetary aspects of business relationships in the construction industry. The authors term the formal financial agreements necessary for such activities “deals”, and this paper seeks to open a research avenue to further investigate the multifaceted interaction processes among business actors. The construction industry is a suitable empirical setting for this purpose; its project-based character and societal position of linking business with the construction of essential community infrastructure imply that different types of money-handling activities need to be managed continuously with both short-term and long-term effects taken into account.

Design/methodology/approach

To investigate the deals, i.e., the interface between socio-material interaction and the money-handling processes in the construction industry, as well as studying the potential interrelatedness of deals, the authors performed a case study involving three interrelated housing projects in Uppsala, Sweden.

Findings

The study shows that deals do not only have an intricate relationship to the social-material interaction processes among construction actors, but they also become interrelated in specific ways to form “deal structures” as actors engage in different business relationships over time. This means, for instance, that a single deal can enable several other deals, and involved actors have different abilities in performing deals. Hence, most deals are part of a “broader” interaction pattern of social and material resources spanning the organizational borders of individual companies.

Originality/value

Within the industrial marketing and purchasing, the socio-material interaction among actors has been well studied, but less attention has been paid to the monetary dimension and its relationship to the socio-material interaction processes. In particular, this study provides an understanding of monetary agreements in the construction industry.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

Keywords

Abstract

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

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