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    IMP Journal Seminar 2011





    invites to:

    The IMP JOURNAL Seminar 2011

    The IMP Journal seminar 2011 will be held at Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala, March 31st – April 1st 2011.

    The aim of the seminar is to discuss papers devoted to three different but related aspects of change in a network-like business landscape. The papers will be discussed in small groups among researchers engaged in the following issues:

    - Knowledge in Business Networks

    - Innovation in Business Networks

    - Policy in Business Networks

    The end result will be three special issues of THE IMP JOURNAL. The ambition with is twofold: To share ideas among the authors and to enhance the quality of the papers.

    Time table for paper production:

    • Provide abstract (minimum two pages) of a paper on one of the themes by 17th October 2010. Abstracts for each special issue will be shortly reviewed by the editors.

    • Submit full version by 6th December 2010. Reviews will be sent back by 24th January 2011.

    • Submit final papers by 15th March 2011. Following the seminar all authors will be asked to revise the paper according to the discussions with the reviewers and the editors.

    Time table for the seminar:

    • The seminar starts at 10.00 on Thursday, March 31st 2011 and will be concluded at 13.00 Friday 1st of April 2011.

    • There is no fee for the seminar or for the meals.

    • Rooms will be reserved at Akademihotellet, Uppsala (

    Welcome to send abstracts to the THE IMP JOURNAL Seminar in Uppsala 2011!

    Alexandra Waluszewski, Uppsala University

    (Guest editor, Policy in Business Networks, email: )

    Annalisa Tunisini, Urbino University

    (Guest editor, Innovation in Business Networks, email:

    Elsebeth Holmen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU

    (Guest editor, Knowledge in Business Networks, email:

    Håkan Håkansson, Norwegian School of Management, BI,

    (Editor, THE IMP JOURNAL, email:


    Call for papers

    Special Issue

    Innovation in Business Networks:

    - Downstream and upstream interactions. Consequences for innovation

    This special issue refers innovation in a business landscape where companies are interconnected through upstream and downstream business interaction.

    Within the wide literature on innovation and, especially on innovation in business-to-business markets, studies have been largely developed around three main keywords: innovation-interaction-networks. Innovation generation has been increasingly recognized as emerging in network interaction where different actors share and combine different activities and resources (Hakansson, 1987; 1989 Håkansson and Waluszweski, 2002; 2007; Normann and Ramírez, 1993; Lundgren 1995; Powell et al.,1996; Nooteboom, 2004; Cheesborough, 2003;). In supply chain contexts both incremental and radical innovation is a consequence of interactions between buyers and suppliers (Roy et al., 2003; Jonsen, Ford, 2000; Hakansson 1987; Lundvall 1985).

    Studies on buyer-supplier interaction for innovation have been numerous. Since the late 1970s and 1980s extensive researches have been conducted on the relevance of suppliers’ interaction with customers to bring innovations to the market (Von Hippel,1978, 1988; Biemans, 1989; 1995; Ford et al. 2003). More recently research has focused on the involvement of suppliers in product and process innovations (Håkansson and Eriksson, 1993; Lamming, 1993; Wynstra and van Echtelt,2001; Handfield et al., 1999; Womack et al., 1990)

    Despite all these numerous studies, the empirical experience that companies are interconnected in complex upstream and downstream interactions – which implies both restrictions and opportunities in relation to innovation – is vaguely reflected in innovation management framework. In fact, in a business network/supply chain context, every dyadic interaction between an innovating firm and a customer or supplier is part of a whole set of interactions between the same innovating firm and other customers and suppliers. Thus, a challenge for innovation management in theory and practice is how a deeper understanding of the interconnections between companies’ downstream and upstream interactions can be utilized as innovation opportunities.

    Two questions, which are complementary to each other, are particularly relevant in our perspective. First, how can a deeper understanding of interconnections give a better understanding how to exploit the business opportunities? (See e.g. Jonsen, Ford, 2000) Second, how can a deeper understanding of interconnections give suggestions on how to organize for interactions? It has been observed that “organizing for interaction is a missing link” in supply chain management research (Hakansson, Person, 2009). The study of the interconnections between the company’s upstream and downstream interactions can make it possible to face the intra-organizational problem of a company’s organizing for meaningful interactions.

    This special issue is thus interested in papers dealing with the analysis of how valuable innovation can stem from the company’s interconnected interactions with upstream and downstream business actors. Particular attention will be devoted to those papers that will address theoretical and managerial issues related to the question of the interplay between innovation and “organizing for interaction”.

    We invite manuscripts that draw on the IMP business network perspective. Both theoretical and empirical papers welcomed but prefer those combining the two perspectives.

    Please send submissions to: Annalisa Tunisini,

    The IMP Journal

    Call for papers

    Special issue

    Knowledge in Business Networks

    This special issue is devoted to extending our knowledge on “Knowledge in Business Networks”.

    In the so-called knowledge-based society, knowledge is said to be key to companies’ short-term performance and long-term survival. This is, for example, reflected in the internally focused Resource-based view (Penrose, 1959; Barney, 1991) and its offspring the Knowledge-based view (Grant). More externally oriented frameworks such as Open Innovation (Chesbrough, 2003) also centres on knowledge, and exchange of intellectual property (IP) across firm boundaries forms an important part of an organisation’s business model and performance. Knowledge management and management of IP are themes growing in importance, for companies as well as for universities which are seen as important knowledge players in triple-helix systems.

    “Knowledge” is not a novel issue in IMP research. If we look at the Interaction model (IMP Group, 1982) and the Relationship Development model (Ford, 1980), we find the concepts of information and experience relating to knowledge. In the Activities, Resources and Actors model (Håkansson and Johanson, 1992), knowledge is discussed as an immaterial resource, and the Knowledge structure is suggested as one of the four forces that bind the three ARA networks together.

    In the Links, Ties, and Bonds framework (Håkansson and Snehota, 1995), knowledge is explicitly related to Resource ties which reflect the knowledge and skills in the use and production of resources in relationships. Furthermore, it is stressed that what makes resources valuable are their known uses. However, stressing the importance of heterogeneity, and the infinite possibilities for finding new features in new resource combinations, the main focus is on creating and developing resources. Hence, learning is discussed at more length than knowledge per se. Actor bonds also reflect knowledge in the sense that all actors have bounded information on which they form perceptions, meaning, interpretations, and identities of other actors. By interacting, actors “correct and develop their knowledge (picture of attributes) of the counterpart and learn to exploit each other (and the relationship) better” (Håkansson and Snehota, 1995, p.199). Activity links are also related to knowledge issues, by stressing that all companies have awareness boundaries covering parts of the wider activity pattern (Dubois, 1998).

    The Four Resources model (Håkansson and Waluszewski, 2002), primarily relates knowledge to Business Units which possess knowledge, experience, and memories of other Business units in the networks, or knowledge related to Products, Facilities or Business relationships. Furthermore, Friction is a key force in resource development. Friction is created where new knowledge is confronted with old knowledge and the heavy structures built around the old knowledge. In line with this, transformation of knowledge rather than transfer of knowledge is emphasised as a key issue in networks.

    When doing Business in rainforest-like Networks, the importance of Interaction for knowledge creation is underlined. Interaction is put forward as the driving force for creating connections between bodies of knowledge, and it is “through interaction companies can influence how the knowledge development processes are structured, separated, and directed” (Håkansson et al., 2009).

    Knowledge is also discussed in research on network horizons (Håkansson and Snehota, 1989; Holmen and Pedersen, 2003) and network pictures (Henneberg et al. 2006, 2007; Leek and Mason, 2009, Öberg et al., 2007). There, formation of Network insight (Mouzas et al., 2008) and boundaries of Awareness and of the wider network contexts are explicitly addressed. Based on such research, it has been suggested that actors often have quite limited awareness of the wider networks of which they are a part and, furthermore, that actors often base their actions on network pictures which are obsolete, incomplete, or incorrect (Holmen et al., 2009).

    Based on the review above, it seems fair to say that knowledge is everywhere in business networks, and in Business network research. However, it seems equally fair to argue that knowledge is seldom put centre-stage in the IMP Perspective. Knowledge is usually not the lead actor, but has a supporting role. Among the more notable exceptions are Araujo (1998) and Håkansson and Waluszewski (2007).

    However, if we give knowledge a more leading role, what may we learn about Knowledge in Business networks? The point of departure for this special issue is that there is much more to learn about ‘Knowledge in business networks’. Therefore we encourage contributions on Knowledge in business networks, in particular related to the two issues outlined below.

    In the IMP Perspective, it is stressed that a company’s relationships are its most important resources and, furthermore, that the wider networks in which the company is embedded restrict and enable its development. Therefore, it is particularly important to scrutinize how companies handle their knowledge on relationships and the wider networks in which they are embedded. Which kinds of relationship and network knowledge do companies possess, which knowledge do they search for, when and how do they search for it, how do they organise it (or not), interact and share or hide it, combine and develop it, store it, keep it implicit or make it explicit etc.? How do companies rid themselves of unwanted knowledge? And how do companies handle secrets and lies in networks? In addition to finding and constructing empirical evidence, offering explanations of it are important to bring forward.

    In the IMP Perspective, resource development is given much attention. With resource heterogeneity as a basic assumption, resource interfaces and the resource features activated therein are crucial for the development of resources. Therefore, it is important to investigate how companies develop and manage knowledge on resources, on resource interfaces and features, across organisational boundaries, over time.

    We encourage theoretical, empirical and methodological papers. From an empirical basis, we may learn more about business knowledge (or ignorance) in networks and how such knowledge is managed (or not). Studies of micro-practices of knowledge management in relationship and networks are especially welcomed. Theoretical papers may focus on knowledge in relation to one or more of the many different theses, concepts and frameworks suggested within the IMP Perspective, or offer improved models and explanations. Methodological papers are necessary for improving how researchers in business networks study (important and possibly sensitive) business knowledge as well as take part in developing such knowledge through feedback, consultancy or action research.

    Please send submissions to:


    Call for papers

    Special Issue

    Policy in Business Networks:

    National effects in a Global Business World

    This special issue is devoted to the challenge contemporary policy is exposed to; how to create national/regional benefits of research and technological development (RTD) investments in an increasingly global business landscape.

    To support research and technological projects that can result in innovative and prospering companies, accompanied by investments, employment and growth, has become a key issue for contemporary policy. (Eklund, 2007, Håkansson et al, 2009) During the last decades policy measures have shifted from a focus on specific sectors and related research institutes over to ambitions to build clusters, innovation systems or triple helix systems, with the aim that national/regional policy investments also shall give benefits in terms of business development, prosperity and growth within the borders of the nation/regions where the investments were made. (Florida, 1999)

    However, during the period when policy shifted from supporting specific industrial sectors over to research and technological development projects within specific nations/regions, the business landscape also changed. If companies always have been dependent on specific counterparts on the supplier and user side (Gudeman, 2001, Utterback and Abernathy, 1975), these interdependencies both increased and changed in terms of content and effect (Ford et al, 2003, Piore and Sable, 1984). Both smaller and larger companies have become embedded into business networks that are increasingly global, through specialisation and outsourcing. One effect of this globalization is that the main part of a contemporary end-product is typically supplied by “others”; companies and organisations located at other spaces than the supplier of the end-product/service. (Håkansson, Waluszewski, 2007, Håkansson et al, 2009).

    This means that there is a gap between on one hand the political requirement and related theoretical framework, assuming that national/regional RTD investments will give benefits within national borders, and on the other hand, empirical based research witnessing about a business landscape where companies are interconnected across national/regional borders, and where the costs and benefits of RTD projects are unequally distributed among companies and organisations across company borders.

    This special issue is devoted to the question on how policy can create national/regional benefits in an increasingly global business landscape. If complete innovation journeys, where development, scaling up and industrialisation rarely is taking place within national/regional borders, how can national/regional RTD investment support the emergence of commercial solutions which makes national/regional companies to sustainable, important combinations in global business networks?

    Please send submissions to:


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