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Paper info: Market-as-Network; So What?


Market-as-Network; So What?


Ivan Snehota
University of Lugano
Ivan Snehota

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 19th IMP-conference in Lugano, Switzerland in 2003.


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Ever since its beginning the IMP research has been concerned with the limits of the market concept as guidance for managerial action, especially in markets where customers are businesses and other organisations. At first, it has focused on the empirical evidence of phenomena not foreseen or not considered endemic to the working of the market by the dominating theories of market, namely the existence of continuous exchange relationships and interdependencies among these. At a later stage, much effort has been dedicated to conceptualizing relationships, their dynamics and the network form consequent to the interdependencies. In hindsight it appears that the claim of IMP research that (business) markets are networks of exchange relationships among a varying and various set of actors amounts to postulating that markets are institutions rather then a distinct mechanism in the assumptions of economic theory and much of the marketing discipline. Institutions, whose properties and functioning have some features of pervading consequences for market actors.The aim of the paper is to explore some of the consequences of adopting the ?market-as-network? perspective for research in the marketing discipline and the practice. It puts in relation some of the key concepts of the IMP tradition in relation to the emergent concepts of institutional school in economics. In particular the discussion focuses on the issue of market definition, the concept of differentiation and of the strategic autonomy. Key words: market - exchange processes - market definition - strategic action.