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Book part
Publication date: 24 August 2011

Morten H. Abrahamsen

The study here examines how business actors adapt to changes in networks by analyzing their perceptions or their network pictures. The study is exploratory or iterative in…

Abstract

The study here examines how business actors adapt to changes in networks by analyzing their perceptions or their network pictures. The study is exploratory or iterative in the sense that revisions occur to the research question, method, theory, and context as an integral part of the research process.

Changes within networks receive less research attention, although considerable research exists on explaining business network structures in different research traditions. This study analyzes changes in networks in terms of the industrial network approach. This approach sees networks as connected relationships between actors, where interdependent companies interact based on their sensemaking of their relevant network environment. The study develops a concept of network change as well as an operationalization for comparing perceptions of change, where the study introduces a template model of dottograms to systematically analyze differences in perceptions. The study then applies the model to analyze findings from a case study of Norwegian/Japanese seafood distribution, and the chapter provides a rich description of a complex system facing considerable pressure to change. In-depth personal interviews and cognitive mapping techniques are the main research tools applied, in addition to tracer studies and personal observation.

The dottogram method represents a valuable contribution to case study research as it enables systematic within-case and across-case analyses. A further theoretical contribution of the study is the suggestion that network change is about actors seeking to change their network position to gain access to resources. Thereby, the study also implies a close relationship between the concepts network position and the network change that has not been discussed within the network approach in great detail.

Another major contribution of the study is the analysis of the role that network pictures play in actors' efforts to change their network position. The study develops seven propositions in an attempt to describe the role of network pictures in network change. So far, the relevant literature discusses network pictures mainly as a theoretical concept. Finally, the chapter concludes with important implications for management practice.

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Interfirm Networks: Theory, Strategy, and Behavior
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-024-7

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Book part
Publication date: 16 August 2014

Carla Ramos and David Ford

Companies inevitably interact and entrench in complex organic systems of business relationships with other. These business networks are not objectively defined, instead…

Abstract

Companies inevitably interact and entrench in complex organic systems of business relationships with other. These business networks are not objectively defined, instead they are shaped by the subjective perception of actors. This inherent subjectivity is associated with the notion of network pictures, that is, a research tool that researchers or managers can use to grasp practitioner theories. In this chapter, we discuss how the importance of identifying these theories results mainly from underlying principles of sense-making theory, as well as from the idea around performativity. Drawing on these theoretical groundings, this chapter has two objectives: to explore how practitioners actually perceive their business surroundings and to assess the extent of overlapping between (IMP Group) academic theories and practitioner theories. To achieve these objectives, the researchers use a dimensional network pictures model previously developed in the literature to analyze the network pictures of 49 top-level managers across 17 companies from two very distinct contexts or networks: a product-based network and a project-based network. Among other practices, findings illustrate how practitioners tend to simplify what is going on in their complex surroundings, to personalize their relationships with those surroundings, and to think in a stereotyped way. Moreover, the juxtaposition between the captured practitioner theories and academic (IMP Group) theories show that these are not always overlapping, and are in some cases quite the opposite. This research contributes to the ongoing discussion of the importance of grasping actors’ views of the world, arguing that sense-making theory and the notion of performativity are the two main conceptual drivers justifying the urgency in making those views more visible. This research also adds to the research on the impact and suitability of IMP Group theories on managerial thinking and practice. Finally, this research reinforces the current call for further practice-based research in business network contexts.

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Deep Knowledge of B2B Relationships Within and Across Borders
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-858-7

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1989

John L. Crawford

Describes how the huge problems of managing a largetelecommunications network have been addressed in the development of aproprietary system called NETWORKS. Discusses the…

Abstract

Describes how the huge problems of managing a large telecommunications network have been addressed in the development of a proprietary system called NETWORKS. Discusses the user′s mental model. Describes a network object model. Presents examples of how object‐oriented graphics can be applied to network management tasks.

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Office Technology and People, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0167-5710

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Stephan C. Henneberg, Stefanos Mouzas and Pete Naudé

There has recently been an increase in interest in the notion of “network pictures” amongst researchers in the field of business‐to‐business marketing. Network pictures

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Abstract

Purpose

There has recently been an increase in interest in the notion of “network pictures” amongst researchers in the field of business‐to‐business marketing. Network pictures are managers' subjective mental representations of their relevant business environment. They are posited to work as “sense‐making” devices, and consequently shape managerial decisions, actions, and evaluations. However, while interest in this concept has been reported in a range of literature that is here identified and discussed, there has been no attempt to rigorously conceptualise the underlying dimensions of such pictures. This paper aims to address this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an extensive review of previous work, this study proposes a parsimonious set of interrelated dimensions, and initially tests this approach.

Findings

This article shows the model's face validity, but also argues that not all dimensions are perceived as being equally useful: utilisation of the different dimensions is determined more by what it is that managers wish to represent.

Research limitations/implications

The implications of the concept of network pictures, as well as further research propositions, are discussed.

Originality/value

As researchers develop their interest in network pictures, so one needs to develop one's understanding of what their underlying dimensions are. A parsimonious set of such dimensions is developed and tested.

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European Journal of Marketing, vol. 40 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Harri Ryynänen, Kaisa Henttonen and Risto Tapio Salminen

– This paper aims to explore collective cognitive structures in business networks by analyzing the coherency of network pictures in a service development network.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore collective cognitive structures in business networks by analyzing the coherency of network pictures in a service development network.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use the network pictures construct as a tool to analyze collective cognitive structures in a service development network. The studied case and unit of analysis is a focal network developing a consumer mobile TV service.

Findings

Based on the empirical evidence, the authors found that individuals’ cognitive structures vary extensively in the studied focal network. In addition, collective cognitive structures in intra- and inter-organizational settings differ, and thus should be distinguished.

Research limitations/implications

The research findings are based on a single case study. This study is one of the first attempts to apply network pictures as a research device in industrial marketing. The concept of network conception is put forward, distinguishing intra- and inter-organizational levels of collective cognition.

Practical implications

The employed conceptual tool is proposed for application also when forming a business network, where it is important to make all actors’ (i.e. persons and companies) perspectives on the emerging focal business network visible.

Originality/value

To study the focal network-level collective cognitive structures further, the authors propose the concept of network conception to represent the phenomenon. The present study contributes to the research on collective cognitive structures in industrial marketing by extending understanding on individual- and organizational-level cognitions to a focal network-level collective cognition.

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 31 August 2010

Sharon Purchase, Sid Lowe and Nick Ellis

An earlier researcher, Wood, proposed that cinema is the most appropriate metaphor for interpretation of contemporary life and organizations. The paper adopts the…

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1484

Abstract

Purpose

An earlier researcher, Wood, proposed that cinema is the most appropriate metaphor for interpretation of contemporary life and organizations. The paper adopts the enthusiasm for the cinema metaphor and explores the implications for industrial marketing and business networks, with particular reference to the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Group research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper outlines the Cartesian picture theory of the early Wittgenstein, the comparable “pictures agenda” within the IMP, then the post‐Cartesian “language gaming” approach adopted by the later Wittgenstein, and associates it with an agenda to introduce a more “cinematographic” approach, introducing issues within the “linguistic turn” to the study of business networks.

Findings

The transformation of the contemporary “post‐Cartesian” culture from “written” to “visual” was not fully appreciated until the invention and mass appeal of cinema and the concomitants of a visual culture became more apparent. In the notion of the “spectacle”, Debord was amongst the first to show that the postmodern visual culture was one where social relations are dominated by commodified images. The images that prevail, from this critical viewpoint, are “social opiates” masquerading as progress that control actors through addictive consumption and acquisition by spectator consumers. In this context, business to business relationships are about how these image‐based addictions are maintained within business cultures.

Research limitations/implications

The adoption of a cinematographic metaphor would appear to be a pertinent development for understanding of business network relationships.

Originality/value

The advantage of a cinematographic metaphor over other, less visual, metaphors is that cinema is more visually sophisticated and entirely embedded in cultures dominated by commodified images. It is appropriate, therefore, that visual literacy, realities as increasingly “image‐dominated” and “virtual” business networks are better understood through the lens of a cinematographic metaphor.

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Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 23 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2001

Jeremy Atkinson

The paper provides an overview of recent developments in the provision of networked moving image and sound resources for UK higher and further education, initiated by JISC…

Abstract

The paper provides an overview of recent developments in the provision of networked moving image and sound resources for UK higher and further education, initiated by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee). The outcomes of the Imagination/Universities Network Pilot Project based at the universities of Glamorgan and Glasgow are outlined, and details are given of the work of JISC’s Moving Pictures and Sound Working Group, including the setting up of two national services (a Managing Agent and an Advisory Service) for moving picture and sound resources. Information is also given on four major new projects in this area funded as part of JISC’s programme to develop the DNER (Distributed National Electronic Resource) for learning and teaching, and the technical opportunities and challenges presented by networked moving picture and sound development are discussed.

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Program, vol. 35 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0033-0337

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Article
Publication date: 12 March 2018

Poul Andersen, Elsebeth Holmen and Ann-Charlott Pedersen

Networks and relationships are not stable. On the contrary, they change and are transformed by the actors who take part in them. Change and transformation result from the…

Abstract

Purpose

Networks and relationships are not stable. On the contrary, they change and are transformed by the actors who take part in them. Change and transformation result from the actions and reactions of these actors. However, a key issue is what makes the actors choose some actions and reactions while refraining from others. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors argue that the actors’ expectations to the future of the network are formative for the actions and reactions and, furthermore, that the future expectations are formed by interaction among the actors that take part in the networks.

Findings

The authors depart from the existing foresight literature, but realign its ideas to fit with the core tenets of the IMP approach. Thereby, the purpose is twofold: to explore and conceptualize network foresight phenomena as well as to contribute to the practice of collective foresighting in business networks.

Research limitations/implications

The authors suggest research into formations of expectations in networks with a specific view to the interactive and structural effects of networks. Furthermore, the authors suggest a framework for categorizing network episodes and linking these to the formation of recognized issues and solutions.

Practical implications

The authors provide a framework for analyzing the focus of business networks in terms of solutions and issues, and analytically breaking down the interaction among these.

Originality/value

The authors introduce the concept of business network foresight, both as a distinct concept that enables us to understand change and transformation in networks, but also as a procedure for supporting actors’ strategizing efforts in business networks.

Details

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

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Book part
Publication date: 17 August 2017

Morten H. Abrahamsen, Malena I. Havenvid and Antonella La Rocca

In this chapter, the authors focus on three challenges related to the attributes of the interactive business world and on the related implications for methodology. The…

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors focus on three challenges related to the attributes of the interactive business world and on the related implications for methodology. The first challenge is how to capture the continuity of business relationships, which implies: (1) Taking a two-sided (bilateral) view when researching business relationships, (2) collecting data on content and consequences of business relationships and (3) developing a research design to capture development over time. The second challenge is how to set boundaries and trace network-like structures, which implies: (1) identifying the relevant relationships that appear to affect each other in a network-like manner, (2) capturing interdependences among relationships (how they affect each other) and (3) researching forces generating network dynamics (how these interdependencies are established and change over time). The third challenge is how to observe and research interaction processes in business relationships, which leave little traces and are difficult to record. This requires the attention on (1) the choice of point(s) of observation, (2) the handling of the subjective understanding of interaction and (3) researching how interaction unfolds. The authors conclude with a discussion on the complexity of handling these challenges, and related methodological choices, when ‘research objects’ are interconnected.

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No Business is an Island
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-550-4

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2016

Sid Lowe, Michel Rod and Ki-Soon Hwang

This paper aims to propose an approach for exploring industrial marketing network environments through a social semiotic lens.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to propose an approach for exploring industrial marketing network environments through a social semiotic lens.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper introduces social semiotic perspectives to the study of business/industrial network interaction.

Findings

This paper describes how structures of meaning derived from a cultural history of signification and interpretive processes of meaning in action are co-determined in social semiosis. The meaning of environments using this social semiotic approach is emphasised, leading us to explore the idea of the “atmosemiosphere” – the most highly complex business network level, in illustrating how meaning is made through structuration between structures of meaning and their enactments in interactions between actors within living business networks.

Practical Implications

Figurative language plays an important role in the structuration of meaning. This facilitates establishing plots and, therefore, in the actors’ capability to tell a story, which starts with knowing what kind of story can be told. By implication, the effective networker must be a consummate moving “picture maker” and, to do so, she must have competence in narrative, emplotment, myth-making, storytelling and figuration in more than one discursive repertoire.

Originality/value

In using a structurational discourse perspective informed by social semiotics, our original contribution is a “business networks as discursive constructions” approach, in that discursive nets, webs of narratives and stories and labyrinths of tropes are considered just as important in constituting networks as networks of actor relationships and patterns of other activities and resources.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 31 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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