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Paper info: Formation and Change of a Network in the Swedish Insurance Industry. The Case of a Small Firm's Strategic Network

Title


Formation and Change of a Network in the Swedish Insurance Industry. The Case of a Small Firm's Strategic Network

Authors


Olof Brunninge

Place of Publication



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

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Abstract


In recent years there has been great interest in strategic networks. These webs of organisationsare usually defined as long-term arrangements between firms that are strategically led by oneor more hub firms. The present paper examines the development of a strategic network in theSwedish insurance industry over an extended period of time. The case of the firm ?Svedberg& Hübsch? illustrates how the organisation of insurance distribution has changed significantlythrough the initiative of two entrepreneurs setting up their own business. By establishing atied agency and later transforming it to an independent brokerage company the formerSkandia salespeople have introduced a new model for developing and selling insurancesolutions. Central to the entrepreneurs? idea is their reliance on a well-developed network ofsuppliers and customers. However this network has undergone significant changes over timeas Svedberg & Hübsch have met new challenges and developed their business further.The paper poses some questions to existing theory problematising the strategic networkconcept. Considering a case with an SME's network the concept appears in a way that isdifferent from much previous research. As the case shows a small firm may well develop anetwork with a strategic purpose. However, controlling the network and establishing acollective purpose becomes difficult due to power asymmetries. By applying a processperspective the idea of strategic networks as long-term purposeful arrangements is relativised.Considering, the importance of non-intentional strategy formation and networks? subjectivecharacter the strategic network notion appears as an ambiguous but still interesting concept.