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Contents of IMP Journal issue 2, volume 5

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Construction Companies and How They Acquire Knowledge through Business Interaction



Authors


Håkan Håkansson and Malena Ingemansson

Abstract


By combining the two phenomena ‘knowledge’ and ‘interaction’, in terms of how they can vary in both intensity and content, this article attempts to deepen the understanding of the relationship between different types of interaction and learning, and, more specifically, how it appears within the construction industry. As an industry, construction displays some specific features in relation to interactional patterns that seem to hinder the establishment of more extensive long-term interactions. Through distinguishing between different types of interactions we discuss potential learning opportunities. The theoretical discussion is exemplified with empirical material from the construction industry that we glean from both earlier studies and from an ongoing investigation of Swedish construction firms. Our results indicate that there are different degrees of knowledge being transferred in the construction network, and that there are examples of close interaction where joint learning takes place. However, the organisational conditions characterising the construction industry seem to provide little incentive to invest in long-term relationships, thus affecting what can be learned from others. This research project has been financial supported by the Swedish Construction Federation and The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation


Knowledge in Use when Actors Interact in Business Relationships



Authors


Antonella La Rocca, Ivan Snehota

Abstract


There has been a lot of interest in the management literature in knowledge. Research in the IMP tradition has investigated the role of interaction in business relationships particularly with regard to the production of resource and activity related knowledge. In this paper we turn our attention to the knowledge actors in business relationships use when they interact, and specifically to knowledge about the counterparts with whom they interact. We start by reviewing the literature that inspired our study, and then report the findings of our empirical study of actors’ representations of their counterparts in 32 business relationships, where we collected actors’ mutual interpretations of the counterpart before and after an interaction episode (meeting). Our findings are based on 128 interviews with actors involved pre- and post- meeting. Our data show that the knowledge actors use when they interact in business relationships has two features: one is that the knowledge in use is emergent and changes continuously; another is that it is relationship specific and consequently varies between relationships. We conclude the paper by discussing the implications of the findings for research and practice.


Knowledge, Transparency and Power in Business Networks



Authors


Per Ingvar Olsen

Abstract


This article explores into the relationship between food suppliers and supermarket-chain retailers in the concentrated and import protected Norwegian dairy market. It aims at developing and discussing analytical constructs to analyze “the dark side of networks” characteristics of such economic systems (Håkansson et al 2009). On the background of ongoing rivalry between the historic agrifood supply regime and the emerging integrated supermarket regime (Bush 2007, Konefal et al 2007), the paper presents and explores into three empirical sub-cases conceptualized as “power-games”. These are “The interdependent production-capacity game”, “The asymmetric mutual dependency game” and “The networked cost- and benefit distribution
game”. The paper argues that to focus on power, knowledge and transparency is a useful approach to studies of transaction patterns and economic re-distribution effects across the interacting actors. It furthermore suggests that a potentially rewarding research route would be to move transaction patterns in complex interacted economies to the focus of further empirical investigation and theory development.


Business Interaction and Knowledge Creation Illustrated by a Supply Chain from the Offshore Oil- and Gas Industry



Authors


Bo Terje Kalsaas

Abstract


The concern of this paper – knowledge and innovation in the interaction between companies – is addressed through the following question: In what ways are joint learning processes, knowledge and innovation restricted or encouraged by the interdependence of activities, the pooling of resources, and the business worldviews involved? A distinction is made between a transactional versus an interactional business worldview. The contents and consequences of either perspective are analysed with regard to different types of dependencies on the technological level. Three knowledge-intensive companies from the same offshore oil and gas industry value chain are studied in order to illustrate this framework. The nature of both the technological interdependencies and business worldviews involved are shown to be significant factors in the flow of knowledge across companies.
A theoretical contribution of the paper is to expand the Ideas aspect of the AARI model by introducing a concept of different levels of company knowledge (technical, systemic and strategic). In opposition to technological determinism, the relationship of a company to its suppliers is identified as being a result of management, since different technological solutions determine the nature of the ensuing interdependencies, and thus also the different forms of coordination and collaboration. Moreover, is it suggested that combining the AARI model with an entrepreneurial perspective might yield a better understanding of the interactional dynamics.


Network Change as a Battle of Ideas? Analysing the Interplay Between Idea Structures and Activated Structures



Authors


Morten H. Abrahamsen, Peter Naudé and Stephan C. Henneberg

Abstract


How should a network be organised? In what direction should it change? In networks actors have distinct network positions which are defined by their connected relationships. If an actor wants to change this network position by altering his connected relationships or respond to the actions of others, he will most likely face differing and perhaps conflicting views and ideas about how the network should be organised. This “battle of ideas” will arguably have an effect on the resulting network reconfiguration. To understand network dynamics we therefore need to understand how interaction reflects the actors’ perceptions, ideas and knowledge of their network. This interplay between ideas and action is the focal point of this paper. After expanding on a theoretical framework provided by Håkansson and Waluszewski (2002) which highlights this interplay, we apply it to an
empirical study of the Japanese distribution networks of Norwegian fresh salmon. Here, traditional fish distribution is undergoing increasing pressure to change by actors questioning its efficiency.