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Rethinking the Role of Middlemen


Ivan Snehota
University of Lugano
Ivan Snehota and
Lars-Erik Gadde
Chalmers University of Technology
Lars-Erik Gadde

Place of Publication

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


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Middlemen and intermediaries are established concepts in the distribution channelliterature. Recent developments of practice make the use of the concept of middlemanproblematic. For example, firms traditionally labelled as distributors are increasinglyinvolved in specifying design, materials, and production methods of products. Theongoing restructuring of distribution has been characterised as a process blurring therole of the respective actors. This paper argues that the problems with the concept ratherstem from the fact that ?middleman? is used to describe actors whose roles vary a greatdeal. The aim of the paper is to explore the characteristics of the different rolesmiddlemen can take in the market network.