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Paper info: How far can managers see? The role of visioning in network strategizing processes


How far can managers see? The role of visioning in network strategizing processes


Morten H. Abrahamsen
BI Norwegian Business School
Morten H. Abrahamsen ,
Aino Halinen
Turku School of Economics and Business Administration
Aino Halinen and Pete Naudé

Place of Publication

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


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There is a lot of research concerned with how managers interpret the past and the present, but not much related to the future. The study of Low & Johnston (2009) is one rare example: taking a future orientation, they examine how companies prepare themselves for emerging technologies and identify network positioning paths for companies from the present time onwards. Managers need to look forwards, but as researchers we mainly look backwards. Yet, we cannot understand companies’ strategizing in networks without understanding how they perceive their future options and anticipate other companies’ behavior. Therefore, research into how managers perceive and enact the future is an important contribution to knowledge. In this paper we are interested in describing how managerial foresight becomes part of business network strategizing. How do managers see the future, and how do they see their opportunities to shape the future given that their individual perspectives are most likely to vary? Two research questions are posed: how effectively can managers see the future development of their business networks, and to what extent does their visioning inform their strategic decisions and the emergent strategic path of their company? By applying a sensemaking approach and concepts from futures research, the study contributes to the literature on strategy in business networks. We report rare longitudinal data, where companies’ future outlook of developments within their network are investigated in period one and then verified in a retrospective analysis six years later. Based on this data we present preliminary conclusions as to how well the managers concerned were able to foresee the developments that actually occurred over the intervening time period, and how the strategic intentions of their companies were realized through interaction and networking.