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Paper info: Digital platforms as tools for exchanges in business networks


Digital platforms as tools for exchanges in business networks


Arto Rajala
Helsinki School of Economics
Arto Rajala and
Annika Tidström
Hanken School of Economics
Annika Tidström

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 35th IMP-conference in Paris, France in 2019.


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It is crucial for buyers and suppliers to understand how the utilization of digital tools may affect their relationships and performance. In addition, there are several challenges related to the use of digital tools as they have to fit with company strategy and systems, and also with the cooperating partners of the firm. Traditionally, research on business networks is focused on interactions between firms in terms of exchange of resources and activities. More recently, the importance of tacit resources such as knowledge exchange have been stressed. The exchange of information and knowledge are especially relevant in today’s digitalized business world where different digital tools offer various possibilities for fast, simultaneous and multilevel exchanges between several actors. The aim of this study is to increase our understanding of digital platforms as tools for business relationship development. The research questions are as follows: (a) how should the exchanges between the companies be organized and optimized on digital platforms?; (b) what are the challenges related to digital platforms for business networks and how can these be managed? The empirical part of this study is based on a qualitative single case study of a business relationship between a manufacturing company and its customer. The findings of the study show a multilevel perspective on digital platforms for exchanges in business networks. Not only inter-organizational aspects must be taken into account, but the activities of individuals matter.