Frontpage  About
Paper info: Interactivity in business networks


Interactivity in business networks


Håkan Håkansson
Norwegian School of Management
Håkan Håkansson and
Ivan Snehota
University of Lugano
Ivan Snehota

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.


Not available


Numerous IMP studies, starting out from single companies, found substantial interaction with some few key counterparts, mostly customers and suppliers, and continuous mutual adjustments resulting in the establishment of economically heavy relationships as a key factor in companies development. These studies also provided evidence of a large variation in how companies interact with each other and striking differences between companies and industries in terms of how close and intense relationships develop among businesses. Variation in how businesses relate to each other and how intensely they interact is interesting. In some cases, a relationship has a heavy substance, which deeply affects the involved actors, their activities and resources. In other cases, relationships tend to be transactional and interaction is reduced to some signals (price and volume) between the parties. In these cases, interaction is free from friction, has little or no substance and has little effect on the business. The substance that the two parties create together in the first case, new combinations and developments, can be used over time and also in relation to other business relationships. One can observe differences in interaction in one and the same company in relation to customers or suppliers with apparently similar features, but also across companies in different industries and businesses. Currently, we lack a satisfactory systemic explanation of the reasons for this variation in patterns and intensity of interaction between businesses. The issue we address in this paper is how can this variation in interaction be explained and propose and outline the concept of interactivity in business networks in an attempt to identify the antecedents of the patterns of interaction among businesses.