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Paper info: Individual vs. Collective Networking Activities in Business Networks: the role of Network Pictures


Individual vs. Collective Networking Activities in Business Networks: the role of Network Pictures


Carla Ramos
University of Porto
Carla Ramos , Daniela Corsaro,
Pete Naude
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom
Pete Naude and Stephan Henneberg

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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The debate around actors‘ network pictures, defined as the cognitive representations of managers‘ business surroundings, has rapidly grown in the latest years. Notwithstanding the increasing interest shown by scholars, some critiques toward network pictures have been also posed, especially with respect to the doubtful utility of knowing how managers interpret the business surrounding. These doubts have been nurtured by the fact that no research existed until now on the relationship between network pictures and the behavior of business actors, i.e. their networking strategies.
In this research direction, recently Corsaro et al. (2011) have conducted an experiment with 445 managers in order to show that a correlation exists between certain relevant network pictures characteristics and actors‘ networking strategic decisions. Notwithstanding its originality, this study has two main limitations: first it considers managers as undertaking decisions in isolation rather than collectively and second it tests only the relationship between network pictures and networking strategies leaving out the contrary.
The purpose of this paper is therefore address these to limitations by understanding if and how specific pertinent network picture characteristics - namely power and dynamic- are associated with different collective behavioral choices, i.e. collective networking strategies (Hoffman, 2007‘s model). To accomplish this purpose, we carried out an experiment involving 168 experienced managers, divided in 86 groups of two participants each.
This study provides important indications on the relevance of network pictures in addressing the decisions of managers in interaction, especially compared to individual decision making processes. Also, it highlights the impact of networking strategies when actors have the same or heterogeneous views of the business surrounding, their perceptions about the other party‘ views (i.e. cross understanding) and the level of agreement with the collective decisions (strategic consensus). Finally the study provides evidence on the effect of interaction on parties‘ re-interpretation of the business surrounding and on the decision undertaken individually.
Business-to-business networks, network pictures, networking, sense-making, experiments.