The IMP Group was originally formed in the mid 1970s, as a research project on "Industrial Marketing and Purchasing", by a group of researchers representing five European countries and universities; the Universities of Uppsala, Bath, UMIST, ESC Lyon and the Ludwig Maximilians University (Munich). A dynamic model of buyer-supplier relationships, the Interaction Model, was developed and used in comparative empirical studies of industrial marketing and purchasing within and across a number of European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and UK). A common experience from these early investigations of about 900 business relationships was that business exchange cannot be understood as series of disembedded and independent transactions of given resources - but rather as complex relationships between buying and selling organisations, where what is exchanged is created in interaction. The result of this first IMP Group study was published in the books "Industrial Marketing and Purchasing of Goods", Håkansson, ed., 1982 (which can be on this webpage, see "Books") and "Strategies for International Industrial Marketing" Turnbull & Valla, eds., 1986.
Today the IMP Group has emerged to an informal, international network of scholars who continue to approach marketing, purchasing, technological development and management from an interactive perspective, in a B2B and a B2C context. The IMP Group's contemporary work also includes business community, policy, and science-technology-business issues. (See "Books", "Papers" and "The IMP Journal" for publications). In short, the contemporary IMP Group represents three different things:
Firstly, the IMP Group represents a research tradition of empirically based studies of how companies are doing business and of what is created when businesses and other organizations interact. The first IMP Group research project was developed on the basis of empirical observations which did not fit into the mainstream economic theories' assumption about an atomistic market: Industrial marketing and purchasing appeared to take place within stable, long-term business relationships. But why do companies develop these interdependencies? What benefits could outweigh the drawbacks of being dependent on others? These and other related research questions have triggered a large number of empirical studies over the past three decades of the "doing of business", carried out by increasing numbers of researchers. These scholars have investigated a wide variety of interactions between individual companies and organisations as well as the wider network that surrounds them. These empirical studies, including issues such as marketing, purchasing, technological development, management, logistics, business communities and policy all challenge mainstream business theory and call for theoretical tools that allow investigations of the interactive aspects of the business landscape.
Secondly, the IMP Group represents a dynamic approach to economic exchange; i.e. a set of tools developed in order to investigate business exchange as a dynamic phenomenon. The fist Interaction Model rests on the assumption that economic resources are heterogeneous and that their economic values are not given but created within buyer-seller interaction. Since this model was developed and used in the first IMP Group research project, ideas on the characteristics of business relationships and networks, on the processes within them and on how individual companies can operate in these arenas have been developed in further dynamic models of interaction in industrial networks. In order to analyze connected business relationships the ARA model was developed and used in a second IMP Group research project, presented in Developing Relationships in Business Networks, Håkansson & Snehota, eds, 1995 (this book can also be downloaded on this webpage, see "Books") and in Managing Business Relationships, Ford, Gadde, Håkansson, Snehota, 2003. In order to analyze the interaction among business resources the 4R model was developed and used in Managing Technological Development, Håkansson & Waluszewski, 2002.
Thirdly, the IMP Group represents network of researchers. The IMP Conference and the IMP Journal Seminar are important meeting places for researchers from all over the world, sharing an interactive perspective on the business landscape. In 1984 the first IMP Conference was organised in Manchester, with some dozens of participants. Today the IMP Conference is an annual meeting place for over two hundred researchers, and for many who also interact in smaller constellations between the conferences. Since early 2000 the IMP Conference has been combined with a Doctorial Consortium, which is aimed to bring together young and established IMP researchers. In 2004 the first annual IMP Journal Seminar was organized in Oslo, as an attempt to create a forum specially devoted for discussions and analysis of research projects aimed to be published in the new IMP Journal. Today the annual IMP Journal Seminar is specially focused on theoretical and methodological considerations of network studies that aim to publication in the IMP Journal which was established in 2004.