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Paper info: Managing in and out of networks - forms of co-strategising


Managing in and out of networks - forms of co-strategising


Ann Charlott Pedersen,
Debbie Harrison
Norwegian School of Management
Debbie Harrison and
Elsebeth Holmen
Norwegian School of Information Technology
Elsebeth Holmen

Place of Publication

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



 In this paper we contend that there is little idiographic empirical research that considers the issue of deliberate networking action in network contexts. The ability of an organisation to manage in a network context involves the three myths of; action, limits to discretion and completeness (Ford et al., 2003). The corresponding dualities of inter-dependence, interaction and incompleteness are said to reflect the reality of being embedded in and managing in relationships and networks. In other words there is a two-sidedness for the organisational unit embedded in a network; the pull of the network and the action of the individual organisation (Håkansson and Ford, 2002; Möller and Halinen, 1999; Möller and Svahn, 2003; Ritter, Wilkinson and Johnston, 2004; Zolkiewski, 2007). Yet the paradox logic reminds us that an individual, embedded firm still needs to act, to try and control and influence, to suggest ideas and initiatives, set limits and seek opportunities. We address the issue of deliberate networking action in network contexts through the use of two complementary case studies. Both cases are examples of firms attempting deliberate networking action or experimentation in strategy project settings. Both projects are triggered by problems within the organisation concerned with capacity and competitiveness, and a relational solution is perceived as necessary and desirable. The case companies reflect different forms of strategising, at different levels of the organisation, with different external counterparts, and in different periods of development/time. The use of the two complementary cases suggests four forms of deliberate networking action 'in and out of' network contexts. That is; muddling out, muddling in, managing out and managing in respectively. We end the paper with a discussion of these four forms of strategising and suggestions for further research into the topic of deliberate networking action and strategising in network contexts.