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    Dear Friends,

    We would like to invite you to take part in IMP Journal Seminar to be held at the University of

    Lugano, 9-10th April 2010.

    The Aim of the Seminar: THREE SPECIAL ISSUES

    The aim of the Seminar is to bring together three small groups of researchers in the business network field with interest in three issues:

    - Distribution Networks,

    - New Business Formation,

    - Interfaces between IMP and ANT (actor network theory).

    The end result will be three special issues of The IMP Journal on Business Networks. The ambition is that the seminar will be used to discuss and share ideas but also that it will contribute to enhance the quality of the papers discussed.

    We would like all participants to present their submitted papers at the seminar. There will be ample time for discussion. Following the seminar all authors will be asked to revise the paper according to the discussion and indications of the editor.

    Time Table:

    We would like you to provide an abstract (minimum two-page) of a paper on one of the themes by October the 15th 2009. Abstracts for each special issue will be shortly reviewed by the editor. A first full version of the paper has to be submitted before the 17th of December 2009. Reviews will be sent back no later than February the 5th. Final papers for the seminar must be submitted before the 15th of March 2010.

    If you need more information, please, contact any of the involved editors.

    We look forward to a productive seminar and the development of important scholarly output.

    Best wishes

    Ivan, Lars-Erik, Luis, John, Hans and Hakan

    IMP Journal on Business Networks

    Call for papers

    Special Issue: Distribution Networks

    “Distribution” studies represent one of the early areas within the field of business research . These studies took a holistic view in the efforts to scrutinize the role of distribution in the economy. The literature that emanated from this research “provided insight into the scale and interconnections between the flows and transformations that constitute the substance of economic life”. The holistic perspective of these frameworks, later refined and developed by Alderson , was an important source of inspiration for the development of the industrial network model through Alderson’s view of resources, relationships and dynamics.

    Within its original field of distribution, however, these early frameworks more or less disappeared, since the area of distribution and marketing channels evolved “from a system- wide perspective to a focus on how the channel captain should behave to secure an efficient distribution of his products”. Other issues that got attraction from researchers expanded the analysis to a dyadic perspective (transaction cost analysis and studies of power and conflict), but the previous holistic view was lost.

    While mainstream research has narrowed the perspective on distribution, the developments of distribution reality actually call for broadened analytical frameworks. Increasingly this reality has been characterized as network-like since evolving distribution structures are identified as “webs of capabilities embedded in an extended enterprise” and “networks of value-adding partnerships” . Owing to these conditions network models have been advocated as appropriate frameworks for distribution studies by representatives of quite diverse schools-of-thought (supply chain management, agency theory, and transaction cost economies).

    It seems thus highly relevant to suggest that the industrial network model should provide an appropriate framework for studies of contemporary distribution arrangements. Therefore, the IMP Journal on Business Networks welcomes contributions to this special issue on Distribution Networks. No particular topics are specified beforehand. Any submission dealing with distribution from an industrial network perspective will be considered.

    Send submissions to:

    Lars-Erik Gadde, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg.


    IMP Journal on Business Networks

    Call for papers

    Special Issue: Formation of New Business in Business Networks

    There is a lot of interest, both in practice and academic research, for how and why new businesses emerge. The issue has been approached in several disciplines from different perspectives. It appears acknowledged that new business formation involves various dimensions and a distinct field of entrepreneurship research and new venturing has emerged that focuses on the phenomenon of new business formation. Traditionally the emergence of new business ventures has been approached from a perspective internal to the venture as a process of opportunity discovery and exploitation by an (individual) entrepreneur. More recent research points to the need to take into consideration the organisational dimension of the new business formation and the role of the contextual variables in attempting to explain the new business formation. New business formation and development appears still to be an important empirical phenomenon for which the currently available analytical frameworks do not offer satisfactory explanations.

    New businesses are often forming in the context of business networks. Research in the IMP research tradition has put in evidence that interaction with other businesses in the context is the factor that both enables and constraints how on-going businesses evolve. It has also proposed a conceptual framework for analysis of the interplay among business organisations in various dimensions. However, it has been used to deal with the new business formation only indirectly and not systematically. We believe that several of the analytical concepts that originate in the IMP research tradition have the potential to contribute to analyse and explain more effectively the process of new business formation.

    Therefore we are interested in the topic of new business formation as a theme for IMP journal seminar in Spring 2010 and as a theme for a Special issue of the journal. There are three broad goals for the special issue: to stimulate new perspective on development of new business ventures and entrepreneurship; to refine the theoretical accounts of the new business formation process and; to strengthen the empirical foundations on that support them.

    To achieve these goals we invite manuscripts that draw on the IMP business network perspective while addressing new business formation. No particular topics are specified. We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers but prefer those combining the two.

    Send submissions to:

    Ivan Snehota, USI - University of Lugano, Lugano. Email:

    IMP Journal on Business Networks

    Call for papers

    Special Issue: Interfaces between IMP and ANT

    Editors: Luis Araujo, John Finch and Hans Kjellberg

    This special issue focuses on the interfaces between two theoretical traditions that share a strong preference for using the term “network” as a powerful metaphor to examine social life, broadly conceived. These traditions are based on the work of the IMP Group, with roots in marketing and purchasing, and actor-network theory (ANT) which grew out of the sociology of science and technology. These traditions inhabit different disciplinary homes, have traditionally focused on different phenomena but recently found themselves partly overlapping in areas such as innovation and market studies.

    The IMP approach deploys the notions of interaction, relationships and networks to study the structure and processes that take place in business markets. It was born out of the dissatisfaction with impoverished and abstract notions of the market culled from economics and marketing. In contrast to theories based on atomistic exchanges between actors endowed with perfect knowledge and foresight, IMP studies unveiled rich webs of interaction amongst interdependent actors often linked by longer-term relationships. Whereas IMP acknowledges the importance of social ties, the substance of business relationships has always been regarded as an heterogeneous mix of social, economic and technical links (Håkansson and Snehota, 1995). The approach has also produced a rich seam of studies of innovation showing the importance of existing structures of actors, activities and resources in both fostering and inhibiting new initiatives (cf. Håkansson and Waluszewski, 2002).

    The ANT approach or the sociology of translation, after Callon (1986), is concerned with providing a new vocabulary for understanding social orders. In particular, it represents a challenge to conventional views of what the “social world” is made up of. In this view, the “social world” is the product of many different types of associations involving both human and, more controversially, material or non-human actors. Whereas social theory generally regards objects as inanimate resources, ANT proposes to afford them a degree of agency and regards this as fundamental to the constitution of social orders. The second conceptual innovation of ANT was the focus on ongoing processes of ordering rather than consolidated orders. Finally, the ANT approach has attempted to break down the traditional distinction between representation and intervention (Hacking, 1983). Instead, representations are seen as deeply implicated in the constitution of the objects they seek to portray. For example, the economy is an object of knowledge for economists, management theorists (including IMP) and other social science disciplines but also the result of knowledge, statements and interventions of all those who produce and consume formalised, systematic and abstract knowledge about economic practices (e.g. marketing and purchasing in business markets).

    IMP and ANT approaches have seldom been compared and contrasted. In a rare exception, Mattsson (2003) suggests that whereas the ANT approach is better equipped to explain dynamics and innovation, the IMP perspective provides a counterpoint to the emphasis on fluidity and transience that pervade the ANT approach. In the more recent past, a number of studies have attempted to combine IMP’s theoretical and empirical tradition with ANT’s foray into the study of the economy and markets (see e.g. Marketing Theory, 8(1), 2008). This growing interest in the interfaces between the two perspectives is also manifested in the number of papers presented at special tracks devoted to Market Studies in IMP Conferences over the past five years.

    This special issue invites contributions, both theoretical and empirical, that examine the interfaces, links and tensions between the IMP and ANT perspectives. Whereas we believe that innovation studies and the conceptualisation of market practices provide the most fruitful areas for further study, we are open to alternative approaches that examine hitherto unexplored points of contact between the two approaches. Below we list, for illustrative purposes only, four issues that we regard as particularly provocative and useful to explore further:

    1) How do IMP and ANT-inspired approaches define and interpret innovation processes? What are the methodological implications of each approach for the study of these processes and how should accounts of innovation be constructed in each case?

    2) How do IMP and ANT deploy the term “network” and what are the implications of these different uses of the term for our understanding of markets? For example, can the term “markets-as-networks” find a currency in an ANT-inspired approach to markets?

    3) How do IMP and ANT differ in their approaches to the conceptualisation of agency and can they learn from each other in this regard? IMP has traditionally defined actors as variable in size (e.g. firms, business units) but is conspicuously short on studies of how actors are configured to act in specific settings. ANT, by contrast, has focused on the notion of actors as composites of temporary and variable associations (an actor is also a network!) and makes little or no reference to categories such as firms, buyers or sellers.

    4) How do IMP and ANT approach the relationship between academic theories and practice? Within IMP there have been periodic calls to close the theory-practice gap (Brennan and Turnbull, 2002) as well as critiques of managerial relevance as a criterion to judge academic theories (Easton, 2000). The role of practitioners as “network theorists” (Johanson and Mattsson, 1992) and the concept of “network pictures” (Ford and Redwood, 2005) highlight the importance of situated cognition for our understanding of how networks operate and evolve. ANT, in turn, is concerned with abolishing the distinction between representation and intervention, and tracing the chains of associations that lead particular representations of the economy to come into being.

    Please send submissions to Luis Araujo ( at Lancaster University Management School (UK)


    Brennan, R. and Turnbull, P. W. (2002), Sophistry, Relevance and Technology Transfer in Management Research: an IMP Perspective, Journal of Business Research 55: 595-602

    Callon, M. (1986). The Sociology of an Actor-Network: The Case of the Electrical Vehicle. In M. Callon, J. Law and A. Rip (eds), Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology: Sociology of Science in the Real World, London, Macmillan: 19-34.

    Easton, G. (2000), Is Relevance Relevant?, Paper presented at the 16th IMP Conference, Bath

    Ford, D. and M. Redwood (2005), Making sense of network dynamics through network pictures: A longitudinal case study. Industrial Marketing Management 34: 648-657.

    Hacking, I. (1983). Representing and Intervening: introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science. New York, Cambridge University Press.

    Håkansson, H. and I. Snehota, Eds. (1995). Developing Relationships in Business Networks. London, Routledge.

    Håkansson, H. and A. Waluszewski (2002). Managing Technological Development. IKEA, the environment and technology. London, Routledge.

    Johanson, J. and L.-G. Mattsson (1992). Network Positions and Strategic Action - an Analytic Framework. In B. Axelsson and G. Easton (eds), Industrial Networks: a New View of Reality. London, Routledge: 205-217.

    Mattsson, L.G. (2003), Understanding Market Dynamics. Potential Contributions to Market(ing) Studies from Actor-Network Theory, Paper presented at the 19th IMP Conference, Lugano

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