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Paper info: Cognitive Mapping Methodology for Understanding of Business Relationship Value


Cognitive Mapping Methodology for Understanding of Business Relationship Value


François Durrieu, Tatiana Bouzdine-Chameeva and

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 17th IMP-conference in Oslo, Norway in 2001.



2How do managers make decisions about the development, the consolidation or thesuspension of a business relationship? It seems to be logic to suppose that the value of a businessrelationship is an important element of managers' decisions. We consider the basic concept of thebusiness relationship value and develop a research design for its measuring.We put forward the hypotheses that the value of business relationship is dynamic,measurable and presents a concrete combination in time of economic and non-economic (social)components (interrelated in between them). How can we develop the shared vision on thebusiness relationship value? What tools can be implemented in order to assist a management teamto evaluate and measure their business relationships? The cognitive approach sheds light on thecollective representation of value phenomenon and permits to measure the three levels' (episode,relationship and network) and three-dimension conceptualisation of the focal relationship value.We propose to apply the methodology of cognitive mapping to supply a researcher anefficient tool for constructing a collective map of a group involved into business relationship. Thecollective cognitive map of a group presents a hierarchy of aspirations, strategic issues, problemsand strategic options. Due to this technique, we can present the beliefs of members of a groupinvolved about causal relations and the reasoning behind the purposeful actions. Shared vision ofthe group focuses on the key issues significant on the structural level of the group and theconvergence of opinions of the group members involved in business relationship. On the level ofmeanings, convergence facilitates the discussion and a problem solving process. Cognitivemapping is an important tool in a representation of thoughts as it is able to reflect different viewsof team members, aide to structure a problem, facilitate mutual understanding. That is why wesuggest applying this technique to measure the social components of the value of businessrelationships.The major advantages of our approach are the representation of individual and collectiveperceptions of the non-economic (social) component of business relationship value; anevaluation and measurement of the focal business relationship value due to the cognitivemapping technique; a computerised comparison of individual cognitive maps as an effective toolfor exploring idiosyncratic beliefs of group members to elaborate a collective map of a groupinvolved in business relationship; automatic construction of the four different types of a collectivemap of a group; a deeper and more clear understanding the focal business relationship value anda conceptualisation based on this learning. The acquisition of the collective knowledge of groupbased on measurement of the value of business relationship aims on improvement oforganisational learning, which becomes an essential issue of the strategic development ofbusiness relationship management in the 21st century.