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Paper info: Plurality of relationships in the company internationalisation process


Plurality of relationships in the company internationalisation process


Krzysztof Fonfara
The Poznan University of Economics
Krzysztof Fonfara and Robert Szczepański

Place of Publication

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


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The article discusses the internationalisation process from a network approach perspective. The authors' research (including a mail survey of 2,000 companies) enabled them to identify four types of company behaviour in the internationalisation process. They are characterised by a diverse (pluralist) way of creating relationships within a network. Analysing companies' behaviour from the perspective of their mainstream activities rather than specific episodes, it can be observed that a group of companies wants to become part of the network and thus actively supports its creation. Another group of companies does not want to be "caught in the net", but since it has no other option, it has to accept its place in the network and its relations with other entities. Still other companies do not accept the objective character of the network and, instead of creating relationships with independent entities, they build their own structure of network relationships. Using results of the research project including the example of seven companies, the authors analyse the mechanism of creating relationships in the company internationalisation process.There is a long-lasting discussion on the manageability of networks within the IMP research. In this context, a basic question appears: are companies able to manage networks or can they only cope within a network? The aim of the paper is to demonstrate the pluralist nature of relationships within a network of reltionships in the internationalisation process.