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Contents of IMP Journal issue 2, volume 1

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Network Relationships and Corporate Acquisitions Outcomes


Roberta Bocconcelli, Ivan Snehota & Annalisa Tunisini


This paper adds to the extensive research on acquisitions and acquisition outcomes which, in the authors’
opinion has been mostly focused on "internal" variables of the acquired and acquiring parties, or on structural
variables of their industries. It deals with the outcomes of corporate acquisitions; in particular, it explores the
effects of acquisitions on the main customer and supplier relationships of the acquired company and the role of
these relationships in the outcomes of acquisitions.
The rationale of the focus on customer and supplier relationships is the recent claim in the literature that
such relationships constitute one of main assets of business firms. The paper reports on twelve longitudinal cases
of horizontal acquisitions of small to midsized industrial businesses by midsized and large companies. The data
has been collected through multiple interviews with management in the acquired companies and in some of the
acquiring companies. The data collected includes changes in the customer and supplier portfolios of the acquired
businesses over a period of five to ten years following the acquisition, and the motivations of these changes as
perceived by the management.
The main findings are that acquisitions tend to have significant effect on the customer and supplier relationship
portfolios of the acquired companies. Also the changes in these relationships give rise to reactions by
the counterparts in the relationships that largely influence the outcomes of the acquisition. The research shows
that the effects on relationships are not anticipated by the management at the moment of the acquisition. Analysis
of the cases suggests that the impact of relationship change on outcomes is rooted in the distance in management
style and strategic focus between the parties to the acquisition. The cases also offer some hints on possible
tactics to cope with such changes and counterpart reactions.

Keywords: Corporate acquisition, market relationships, acquisition process

Towards A Re-Interpretation Of Industrial Networks: A Discursive View Of Culture


Nick Ellis, Sid Lowe and Sharon Purchase


This conceptual paper begins by providing a critique of the modelling of industrial networks in terms of
culture. It then goes on to suggest a methodological way out of the theoretical impasse that has been created
by the limited ways in which culture has been addressed in network studies. We argue that networks
are a promising metaphor to explore marketing practice, especially in international trading contexts. Building
on the work of Capra, this promise is due to the consonance of networks as ‘pattern’ (involving the
qualitative configuration of relationships of ideas) with conceptions of culture that emphasise process
rather than structure. Our proposition, however, is that until now the context-specific, ideational elements
of culture have been overlooked in industrial network analysis. We exemplify our arguments chiefly with
reference to one school of network theory: the IMP Group. Despite the considerable contribution of IMP
scholars to the literature, we show that a degree of analytical reductionism has resulted from the dominant
modernist, logocentric view of networks found in the management science literature. As such, we propose
that integrating the study of networks with ‘culture as process’ (rather than merely as a structural variable)
has considerable potential. The paper concludes by outlining the research implications of our interpretivist
research agenda. This contains a plea for greater linguistic sensitivity and the adoption of a social constructionist
conceptualisation of culture in the study of industrial networks. In order to address this agenda,
discourse analysis is put forward as a methodological approach that might be considered by IMP researchers.

Keywords: Industrial Networks; culture; interpretivist approach.

Effects of Product Development: A Network Approach


Espen Gressetvold & Tim Torvatn


Product development is widely regarded as important, but it is cumbersome, costly, and burdened with
risks for the parties involved. Companies therefore often embark on product development with some trepidation.
However, the development process has a variety of effects in addition to the product itself. In the quest to get
“more” out of product development, this article takes a somewhat untraditional approach by elaborating on four
other types of resources that are affected by this process: business relationships, business units, facilities, and
other products. Examples of effects on business relationships include cooperation, joint learning and establishing
well-developed customer and supplier relationships. Effects on business units include the development of new
capabilities and corporate learning – both from successes and from failures. Effects on facilities include the acquisition
and development of machinery and equipment as well as putting it into production as new products arise.
Finally, product development has effects on other products, e.g., new versions, other products within a product
family, and reuse of generic components. These four effects direct attention away from the product itself as the
only relevant effect of the product development process. Furthermore, these effects take place at a network level,
which directs attention to the inter-organizational side of product development. The empirical part of the article
discusses Nordic VLSI, an electronics company that develops products in cooperation with customers and suppliers.
The four types of effects are identified as occurring at different stages, i.e., both concurrent with and subsequent
to the product development itself. These effects may be direct or indirect. Some of the effects are highly
visible to the participating companies, and thus easy to plan for and observe, while others are less visible. Neither
the occurrence of these effects nor their visibility is predetermined. Thus, companies can always make a deliberate
effort to create and utilize effects of product development that they consider to be desirable, and eliminate or
reduce effects that they consider to be undesirable. In this way, product development becomes a process that
should not be planned fully in advance, but rather has to be dealt with as a series of decisions over time.

Keywords: product development, business relationship, business network, inter-organizational