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Paper info: The Legitimation of Power in Business to Business Relationships


The Legitimation of Power in Business to Business Relationships


Keith Blois
Lancaster University
United Kingdom
Keith Blois

Place of Publication

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


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Comment on the existence and perceived consequences within networks of what are often labelled 'asymmetrical relationships' has been made by many different bodies. For example, there are academic studies, comments in the business press, Government investigations, and, court cases where the evidence would seem to suggest that one party dominates or exercises power over the other. Yet even though the subservient members of the network may, from time to time, have been 'forced' by another party to undertake actions that they have perceived as being to their disadvantage, it is also a matter of comment that many such asymmetrical relationships are long-standing and that the parties involved all seem reasonably successful. There is thus an apparent contradiction between the presumed negative effects of being dominated and the on-going nature of such interactions. This paper will use the concept of the legitimacy to understand why such disadvantageous situations continue to exist within networks and to appreciate the circumstances under which the legitimacy of a dominant organization's position might be challenged.