Professor Poul Houman Andersen (Aalborg University, Denmark),
Dr Christopher J. Medlin (University of Adelaide), and
Professor Jan-Åke Törnroos (Åbo Akademi University, Finland)
Deadline for submission: November 15, 2016
In business-to-business marketing the “interactive relationship and network” approach posits that what an actor tries to accomplish both draws on and affects activities and resources of other actors (Håkansson & Snehota 1989). Often a stability-change lens is applied for analysing and discerning the linkages and elements between business actors: an existing network pre-exists change and hence stabilizes actors’ understanding of business processes. We seek research that takes an alternative perspective and attempts to think in terms of business networking and change occurring first, before stability arises from the pre-existing business network. The shift in emphasis is away from relationships and towards the processes managed by actors in the network.
In a strong change view, pre-existing relationship and network structures fade in importance and unfolding rather than stability appears as a defining network characteristic. According to Pettigrew (1997) and Van de Ven (1992) processes are human understandings of cause-effect associations based on inputs, contexts, actors and their connections, generative mechanisms, time connections and outcomes. Each of these elements is able to be re-conceptualized and in particular by problematizing the central construct of social and relational time (Halinen, Medlin & Törnroos 2012; Halinen & Törnroos 1995; Halinen & Törnroos 2005; Medlin 2004). Processes are time bound managerial and also theoretical concepts, but our understanding of how they are enacted in business networks is limited.
The alternate process approach, which is the focus of this CfP, follows the substantive interaction of actors as subjects in their world (Håkansson et al. 2009) and where change processes are endogenous in nature within a dynamic business network. Our aim is to bring together different strands of research and spur conceptual development of new ways of understanding process as sets of multi-actor activities. To our mind processual research offers a way to conceptualize change as the business network transforms and adjusts to take on ever new value creating activities.