Business Relating Business

Business Relating Business

Managing Organisational Relations and Networks

Ian Wilkinson

Business Relating Business argues that business performance depends on the way a firm is connected to other firms and organisations and not just its own skill and resources. The book synthesises thinking from marketing, management, economics and international business with evolutionary biology and complexity theory, as well as integrating many years’ research on interfirm relations and networks. It develops the management and policy implications of adopting relationship and network perspectives and sets out an agenda for future research.

Introduction: Relationships and Networks Are Us

Ian Wilkinson

Subjects: business and management, marketing

Extract

Relationships and networks are everywhere. In business and life we cannot exist without or avoid relations with others. We are born into a relationship with our biological mother as the product of interaction in a relationship, however temporary, between a male and female. The rest is our history. We are enmeshed in relations in life and business life, and the two interact. This book is about relationships and networks, interconnected systems of relationships, in business. I am interested in the opportunities and problems, insights and blinkered vision that arise through and about interactions with others. From a business perspective the focus is on the way collaborative advantage underpins competitive advantage: the way we compete to collaborate and collaborate to compete. I examine how firms and managers do and should manage their interactions and relations with other people, firms and other types of organisations, both internally and externally, be they direct counterparts or indirectly connected others. Even decisions and planning processes themselves are the product of relations and interactions among interested parties. A firm, clearly, is not an island; it is embedded in a set of ongoing business, professional and personal relations that shape and are shaped by its actions and responses. Indeed, the firm is really no more than a construction or derivative of the pattern of interactions in which it is involved over time – a kind of connecting unit. This is what Håkansson and Snehota had in mind when they wrote: A business enterprise looks more like a...