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Paper info: Network pictures and network potentials in supply management


Network pictures and network potentials in supply management


Ann-Charlott Pedersen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Ann-Charlott Pedersen ,
Elsebeth Holmen
Norwegian School of Information Technology
Elsebeth Holmen and TinaB. Aune

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.


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This paper focuses on the use of network pictures for managing supplier relationships in their network contexts. In particular, the paper addresses the following three issues: (1) How can we conceptualise the congruence between a customer company's picture of its supplier-related network and the supplier's picture of its network? (2) What benefits may ensue from changing the customer company's supplier-related network picture? And (3) How may a customer company proceed to find hitherto unknown potentials in its supplier-related network? Based on a single case study of a company and four of its main suppliers, we compare and contrast the supplier-related network pictures of the customer company with the network picture of the suppliers. Furthermore, we identify network potentials which a customer firm may identify following a change of its network picture. Our investigation and analyses enables us to make the following suggestions. Firstly, a company may consider if parts of its network pictures are incomplete, incorrect, obsolete or generalised, and if such incongruities matter for the manner in which it manages its suppliers and the network pictures are in need of revision. Secondly, if the company revises its supplier-related network pictures, it may find valuable, hitherto unknown supplier-related network potentials which may form the point of departure for changing certain parts of the relationships to the suppliers. Thirdly, in order to revise its supplier-related network pictures and gain additional insight into its supplier-related networks, a company may employ different strategies: systematic search, systematic discovery, chance search, and chance discovery.