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Paper info: Comments on Sousa & de Castro's: The anatomy of relationship significance: a critical realist exploration

Title


Comments on Sousa & de Castro's: The anatomy of relationship significance: a critical realist exploration

Authors


Ian Wilkinson
University of Sydney
Australia
Ian Wilkinson

Place of Publication


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

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Abstract


Relationship significance is defined by the authors as: "the influence of business relationships on the focal firm's survival or growth". This draws attention to the kinds of benefits or functions that relations can provide for a firm. These are the powers and tendencies of relations in critical realist terms and, on the negative side, the burdens or liabilities of relations. It is argued that the causes of relationship significance are for the most part left unidentified. This I find hard to agree with. It seems to me that a lot of IMP research, both empirical and conceptual has gone into the role of relations and networks. For example, Empirical work includes that stemming from the IMP2 study of relations and connected relations and their impact (e.g. Wiley et al 2006), which is mentioned by the authors. And Walter et al (2001) and Walter et al (2003) have undertaken empirical and conceptual work on the functions and value of business relations and reviewed previous research on this topic. What does a critical realist conceptualisation add to our understanding of relationship functions and impacts? Perhaps one area the authors point to that is in need of further conceptual and empirical work is the burdens of relations or their dysfunctions.