Chapter 9: Reinventing The Future of Business Relations and Networks
1 INTRODUCTION This book has shown that, in business, interactions between the parts of a system (including people, ﬁrms, resources, activities and ideas) matter more than the characteristics of the parts themselves, and networks of interactions matter even more. This point of view brings aspects of business into clearer focus and is a source of insight that other, more narrowly focused, ﬁrm and management perspectives obscure. Interactions produce, reproduce or change the parts, the ﬁrms and other organisations involved in business and the way they are interconnected, including economic, social and political, and the activities, resources, bonds and schemas involved. In an important sense people and ﬁrms do not manage these interactions and networks of interactions within and across ﬁrm boundaries; the interactions ‘manage’ them. I came to my views on business from a prior focus on systems theory and Aldersonian functionalist marketing theory, with a particular emphasis on the structure of marketing channels and the interactions taking place among ﬁrms in such systems. Business marketing allowed me to broaden this to encompass the structure and function of business networks more generally, including buyer–seller interactions and relations. I have written generally about the history of thought concerning business networks and channels in marketing elsewhere (Wilkinson 2001); in this chapter I summarise some of the key ideas in this book and how I think we can and should move forward in terms of our research and thinking. MARKET TRANSACTIONS AND COLLABORATIVE ADVANTAGE The analytical framework underlying this book may be...
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