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Paper info: Contextual Factors of Network Picture Formation: An Empirical Examination


Contextual Factors of Network Picture Formation: An Empirical Examination


Carla Ramos
University of Porto
Carla Ramos and
David Ford
University of Bath
United Kingdom
David Ford

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 25th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2009.


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The business network is a varying entity, depending on the perceptions of the actors within the network. Moreover, it has been posited that perceptions are important for actors' networking activities as well as for the outcomes of strategic actions. Given the recognised importance of actors' views, recently there has been growing research interest in this area. This paper aims at analysing how contextual factors affect the way individual managers perceive their surrounding network. For this purpose, an empirically derived dimensional model of network pictures was used which allows researchers and managers to grasp actors' distinct views of the surrounding business network. In a qualitative empirical study, this dimensional model is employed to assess which contextual factors affect actors' perceptions of the network. Multiple respondents in several companies representing two very different networks are used and network picture characteristics are compared between the two considered networks. Our findings show that manager's network picture characteristics are related to the features of their network, i.e. the continuity and the complexity of underlying business relations, the role played by formalisation and the level of embeddedness with regards to the sector in which companies developed their business activity. As such, our analysis contributes to a better understanding of managers' cognition in business networks, especially the contextual factors influencing network picture characteristics.