Business performance depends on more than the characteristics and quality of the individual firm; it depends on the way a firm is connected directly and indirectly to other firms and organizations stretching over industry, technological and national boundaries. This is ever more so in an increasingly internationalized world where firms rely on key inputs from firms spread around the globe and serve customers equally dispersed. The development of collaborative relations and networks among and within firms is increasingly recognised as an important source of competitive advantage for firms, industries, regions and nations. This is because business relations and networks are a part of the extended enterprise of a firm; a form of collective mind with associated skills, resources, knowledge and competences that both enable and constrain what those involved can do, see, know, learn and think. Business relations and networks present problems and challenges for managers and policy makers because they are not centrally directed and controlled by individual firms or government but are examples of complex adaptive systems that self-organise over time through the micro interactions and processes taking place.
This book brings together the latest thinking and research regarding the nature and role of business relations, both within and between them, and integrates this for the first time into a comprehensive and comprehendable framework of use to students, researchers, managers and policy makers. It draws on many years of research and writing in this area by Professor Ian Wilkinson from the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales and his co-researchers, drawing inspiration, in particular, from the research and thinking of those associated with the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Group, and international network of researchers focused on the study of business relations and networks in all their manifestations.