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Paper info: Could the organisation of export partner groups be a gordian knot?


Could the organisation of export partner groups be a gordian knot?


Henrik Virtanen and
Åsa Hagberg-Andersson
Hanken School of Economics
Åsa Hagberg-Andersson

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 28th IMP-conference in Rome, Italy in 2012.


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Studies of export partner groups have revealed that a fundamental problem exists concerning the limping co-operation between the companies in the groups. Co-operation is strongly connected to the organisation and co-ordination of the groups. A change in organisation also implies that the roles of the actors in the groups change. The purpose of this paper is to further elaborate on the problem and challenge of organising export partner groups. In this study, informants who have worked as export managers in different export partner groups were interviewed. The problems and opportunities connected to organisation as well as the different organisational forms of the groups were subsequently analysed and discussed.Different organisational forms have different benefits and help the organization in different ways to fulfil its goals. In export partner groups, the final choice of organisation depends primarily on following determinants: 1) the companies’ technology, 2) the compatibility between their products and services and 3) the goals of the groups. Previous research has mainly looked upon organisation of export partner groups as a one-dimensional phenomenon. In this paper, the organisation has been discussed as a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Still, the concept of organising could theoretically and managerially further be sharpened.There is no single ‘best’ way of organising export partner groups. Every group is unique, with its own constellations of actors, activities and resources. The organisational determinants discussed in the paper give though managerial guidelines when organising groups. The paper elaborates on the organisation of export partner groups, which is one decisive antecedent to successful projects. Stakeholders should take organisation issues into careful consideration, while ignoring them can result in less successful export partner group projects.