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Paper info: As time goes by: The paradox of stability and change in Australianbusiness networks


As time goes by: The paradox of stability and change in Australianbusiness networks


Catherine Sutton-Brady
University of Sydney
Catherine Sutton-Brady

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 21st IMP-conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2005.



Stability and change may seem contradictory features but in business networks they coexist(Hakansson and Snehota 1995). This paper explores the paradox of the coexistence of stability andchange in an Australian context. Previous research illustrated that stability over time can exist inspecific business relationships (Sutton-Brady and Donnan 2003). This research study furtherinvestigates time as a proxy variable of stability (Halinen and Tornroos 1995) and attempts to uncoverother variables, which may impact on the stability of the relationship. The research was undertakenusing a selected sample of Australian wine companies and suppliers to the wine industry. The sampleincluded 15 wineries of varying size and 21 suppliers representing a cross section of all suppliers tothis industry. While the overall project looks at wineries and suppliers, for the purposes of this work-inprogresspaper findings from the buyer side will be initially presented. A future series of papers are inprogress for this research project.Given the exploratory nature of the research a case study approach was utilized to gain an in-depthunderstanding of the variables, which may contribute to the stability. The research was conductedusing a structured and semi-structured research instrument, which was essentially an interview guidefor the researcher ensuring that no issues were overlooked. The semi-structured nature of the guideallowed for a flowing and expanding interview. In addition to utilising in-depth interviews with seniormanagement in each organisation, data was also collected from varied secondary sources throughextensive internet and database searches of the various organisations and relevant government andindustry bodies. This work-in-progress paper presents the findings from 3 case studies.In essence this paper further advances the concept of time as a proxy variable for stability whileinvestigating what other variables may be crucial in understanding this concept. From analysis of thecase studies, it was found that other variables play a role in determining the stability and change in therelationships and networks, these included location, product/service quality, technology,cooperativeness, adaptations and cost. The major contribution of this work-in-progress paper is thefact that it reopens discussions on time as a proxy variable for stability and attempts to broaden this toinclude other variables. Caution is advised however because the analysis of the data collected for thisresearch study is ongoing and the findings are therefore not definitive.