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Paper info: Interactive Networks as Competitive Strategy for Small High-Tech Enterprises


Interactive Networks as Competitive Strategy for Small High-Tech Enterprises


Claire McBride, Katrina Lawlor and
Nicole Gross
University College Dublin
Nicole Gross

Place of Publication

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


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The landscape of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry, as a national priority sector for Ireland, is mostly populated by small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Since most companies fail to produce major innovations (Enterprise Strategy Report, 2004), relationships and networks are often rendered as means of bringing the product or service to the market. While literature abounds in the field of relationship marketing, very little has been documented in the context of the Irish high-technology sector. In addition, there is profound lack of insight into how exactly those relationships and networks help smaller technology firms with less market power to carve out a competitive advantage. The paper roots the research in the realm of relationship marketing and indicates its relevance to SMEs. Ethnography as a research methodology was used for studying contemporary marketing practice in the high-tech enterprise. Empirical findings show that deep relationships and networks are a source of competitive advantage, because they reduce uncertainty and enable effective market research. Good relationships allow easier access to the market network, facilitate the formation of a value proposition and act as a communication vehicle. Preliminary findings show marketing to be formulated uniquely and individually through interactive relationships. Individual organizational members have a strong input to the formulation and practice of marketing. In addition, marketing is found to be subject to trial and error as well as constant changes depending on the amalgamation of deliberate strategies (Mintzberg, 1985) with reality. It is concluded that this research provides an empirical contribution to the study of relationships and networks as means of gaining competitive leverage for small technology companies operating a business to business environment.