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Contents of IMP Journal issue 1, volume 2

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‘Exit, voice and loyalty’ in business to business markets


Keith Blois


Hirschman (1970) uses an analytical discussion to consider how a customer may use ‘voice’ or
display ‘loyalty’ within an exchange situation rather than discontinue the exchange by ‘exiting’. While his
analysis provides valuable insights into customers’ behaviour towards their suppliers, the need for
further development of his analysis when applied to business to business exchanges is considered. In
particular the paper will argue that there are circumstances where, rather than to respond to the
customer’s ‘voice’, the supplier will prefer the customer to ‘exit’. Finally the potential use of ‘event
analysis’ to provide insights into the financial impacts of ‘exit, voice or loyalty’ is considered.

Keywords: Exchanges, Financial implications, Loyalty, Relationships

When Resource Interfaces Are Neglected: Lessons From History


Alexandra Waluszewski and Martin Johanson


This paper examines the issues of business resources and resource interfaces by presenting a longitudinal case
study of a company coping with the transition from a centralised Soviet economy to a more conventional situation.
The paper draws distinctions between different interaction patterns: those dominated by indirect interaction
inspired by hierarchical thinking; very 'thin' interaction inspired by traditional market theory, or 'thick' interaction
inspired by insights on what can be reached through resource combining effects. The case study shows how the
kind of interaction pattern that a company is embedded in will determine its way of functioning. The case
company’s struggle with its resource interfaces also highlights what constitutes 'normality' in business
landscapes characterised by a 'thick' interaction pattern, or a decentralised way of handling resources interfaces.
The case also highlights what is required for processes where both efficiency and effectiveness can be created
through dealing directly with resource interfaces. Finally, the experiences of the case company can also be seen
as arguments for considering what effects more minor variations in an economic landscape have for the
possibility of creating effectiveness and efficiency through direct interaction around resource interfaces. If the
overall economic landscape is dominated by some few owners (whether families, multinationals or governments)
with short-term profit focuses and/or by a 'top-down' management style, there are reasons to believe that this will
have negative effects on the way resource interfaces are dealt with and consequently on effectiveness and
efficiency issues. Contrariwise, if an economic landscape has a more interactive nature, i.e., if it is dominated by a
heterogeneous ownership structure, by decentralised management style and technologically skilled and engaged
people, this will probably have positive effects on effectiveness and efficiency issues.

Key Words: Business relationships, History, Interaction, Resources, Resource interfaces, Soviet Union,

Business relationships and resource combining


Lars-Erik Gadde and Håkan Håkansson


The increasing significance of relationships is acknowledged by various schools of thought.
Despite the fact that these approaches describe and explain business relationships somewhat differently,
they seem to share the view that there is a strong association between a company’s business relationships
and its use and control of resources. The aim of this paper is to explore the role of business relationships in
systematic combining of resources. We begin with an illustration of resource combining across firms’
boundaries in the steel industry. On the basis of this example we make a distinction between resource
combining within relationships and between relationships and explore the characteristics of the two. This
section is followed by a framework for analysis of resource combining building on four categories of
resources. The framework is then used to exemplify systematic resource combining in three different
dimensions: primary, secondary and tertiary. Finally, we conclude by interpreting the role of business
relationships in systematic resource combining.
From the organizational theory perspective it is claimed that the processes of building interorganizational
relationships can be regarded as a flow of resources between organizations (van de Ven
1976). In transaction cost analysis ‘asset specificity’ is a central concept denoting resources dedicated to
specific business partners. According to Dyer and Singh (1998) a firm may consciously seek advantages by
designing resources that are specialized in conjunction with those of a customer or supplier. Once a high
degree of asset specificity is established business exchange is best supported by organizational forms
enhancing cooperation and proximity between the partners (Dyer 1997).

Key words: resources, resource combining, categories of resources, business relationships

Pictures At An Exhibition Of Business Markets: Is There A Case For Competition?


Malcolm T Cunningham


This paper has uses the phrase ‘pictures at an exhibition’ as a metaphor for the research studies presented
at the annual conference on business markets by the IMP group.
The early IMP ‘pictures’ of business-to-business relationships, dyadic interactions and markets as networks
have had a major influence over the past 30 years on European research. However, the increasingly dominant
research focus upon cooperative relationships has been at the expense of research into various facets of competition
and the competitive behaviour firms. This paper suggests that many ‘art critics’ have expressed concerns that the
research pictures at the IMP exhibition have become somewhat stereotyped and would benefit from inputs of ideas
and concepts emerging in relevant fields of literature.
This paper concentrates on several neglected pictures of competition in business markets. It presents a
sketch of the dynamic competitive environment and displays various studies of competitive strategies to demonstrate
how firms actually compete. It is argued that ‘relationships’, interactions and network positioning should be seem as
essential steps in developing competitive strategies at the level of the individual firm.
An in-depth picture of the activities of a “tribal group” in the German packaging industry is presented as a
case study. The analysis of the case study draws upon several concepts of competition and competitive behaviour
arising in the earlier sections of this paper. Suppliers within the tribal group were shown to act in a complex mixture of
cooperative, transactional, competitive and collusive modes of behaviour.

Keywords: Competitive Strategies, IMP Group, Stereotyping