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Paper info: 40 years of IMP Research – the evolvement of the IMP network


40 years of IMP Research – the evolvement of the IMP network


Håkan Håkansson
Norwegian School of Management
Håkan Håkansson and
Lars-Erik Gadde
Chalmers University of Technology
Lars-Erik Gadde

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 32nd IMP-conference in Poznan, Poland in 2016.


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IMP is in business research today used as an acronym in combination with words like group, research, approach and methodology. It seems in this way to be something rather distinct. Despite this, 40 years after the first project meeting in 1976, it is rather difficult to describe what IMP is in a simple way. We know that related to the acronym IMP there has been 37 international conferences, that there is a journal and that there are more than 2 500 papers published on the IMP webpage. On the same page there are also more than 30 books presented and also some of the more than 200 Ph.D. thesis that over the years have been completed connected to IMP. This paper is an attempt to make a network analysis of the development by applying the ARA-model. We will describe how the actors, activities and resources have developed over the 40 years including how relationships have been developed between different research groups. In this way we can relate some artefacts that all are different kinds of concrete outputs of the development process toward each other. From the start IMP was obviously a project involving researchers in five countries. But already during this project there were important complementary activities and resources related to the project. A process was initiated where several researchers and research groups in different countries became related in what they were researching in a number of different ways. Several projects – more or less international – but always with international connections – were completed. Researchers have met, discussed and found ways to cooperate around a theme that in turn is related to how companies evolve through more or less cooperative business relationships. In the analysis we identify the key actors, activities and resources in the different time periods. We begin in the process leading up to the first project that consisted of a large international research project. Then the process will be much more complex and multifaceted why we will have to use a classical research approach – to select out some parts in the process in order to analyse these in more detail. This is our suggestion to give one answer to the basic question – what is IMP?