Paper info: Network Pictures as a Research Device: Developing a Tool to Capture Actors' Perceptions in Organizational Networks
Network Pictures as a Research Device: Developing a Tool to Capture Actors' Perceptions in Organizational Networks
University of Porto
University of Bath
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 25th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2009.
In business networks, strategic actions are believed to be guided by actors' subjective views or perceptions of their surroundings. Researchers thus consider these perceptions as important for understanding network related phenomena. Despite their recognized importance, there has not been much research aimed at developing a way to systematically capture these perceptions. The purpose of this paper is to show how actors' subjective views of the business network can be analysed using the research device of network pictures. This is done by developing an empirically derived dimensional model for capturing different aspects of an actor's subjective view. Furthermore, we explore the network picture of one respondent to exemplify how the developed device can be applied and to show what may result from its usage. We also illustrate how the research device of network pictures allows identifying differences between individuals and how there seem to be 'types' of ways of perceiving the business network. This is accomplished via a clustering analysis of 49 network pictures from respondents within two different networks.This paper therefore represents a methodological contribution through the development of a tool that may change researchers' practices in understanding business networks. As such, it enriches the literature on business networks, inter-organizational cognition, and strategic decision-making. Furthermore, as a managerial contribution it provides managers with the means to analyse their own as well as others' perceptions of the business network, and also to explore the potential consequences of perceiving the business environment in certain terms.