تصاویر شبکه: ساخت یک نمایش کلی از یک رابطه دوتایی تجاری بنگاه به بنگاه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|23769||2009||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||6540 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 38, Issue 6, August–September 2009, Pages 599–607
Network pictures are perceived as providing a picture of a company's position within a network and as providing managers with a framework for strategic decision making. This exploratory paper sets out to investigate the application of network pictures of individuals from two companies involved in a business relationship. More specifically between companies and between individuals, it examines the boundaries of the network pictures, the lines of communication, the perceived relationship atmosphere and the impact of environmental factors. Within the companies the individuals were found to have different network pictures which reflect their managerial level and function. We suggest that the boundaries of the individuals' network pictures, their frequency of communication and perceptions of the relationship atmosphere systematically vary with their managerial level. Systematic variation occurred between the companies with regard to the perceived lines of communication and the relationship atmosphere.
In order for firms to develop their inter-firm relationships they need to be able to identify key actors in their business networks that can enable them to solve the problems. These problems may vary from working out who has the knowledge to help drive effective changes to problematic inter-firm routines, to identifying individuals with the authority to approve significant changes in make/buy decisions. Identifying actors, who might be individuals or groups of individuals from an intra-firm or inter-firm context, can be challenging. One way that firms might seek to do this is through the use of shared network pictures. The purpose of this research is to compare network pictures of individuals from two companies involved in a business relationship in order to generate insights into how individuals solve problems that span organizational boundaries and if network pictures might be used to develop inter-firm relationships.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Network pictures are perceived as providing a picture of a company's position within a network and as providing managers with a framework for strategic decision making and problem solving. This exploratory paper sets out to investigate the application of network pictures of individuals from two companies involved in a business relationship. Applying network pictures to both sides of a dyadic relationship generates valuable preliminary findings that warrant further investigation. First, our findings suggest the importance of hierarchy in the way inter-firm relationships are perceived and understood. The respondents in our research are operating at different managerial levels, within different functional areas. This is reflected in the depth and width of their network pictures. Further, our findings suggest that senior managers may be more inclined to have a greater depth to their network pictures in that to obtain an overall picture of the relationship they need to talk to managers at a variety of levels. This means they may perceive relationships in terms of groups of people or functions rather than individuals. Due to this strategic perspective it is possible that the senior manager's network picture may broadly encompass the network picture of a manager at a less senior level, for example, as with Gary (Fig. 2) and John (Fig. 4). It is also possible that the senior managers' network pictures may only minimally overlap, for example, as with Gary (Fig. 2) and Chris (Fig. 3). Managers at less senior levels dealing with a specific function tend to have network pictures which have less depth but greater width. They tend to be less concerned with the overall view of how the relationship fits in with the company strategy and are more concerned with the smooth running of their function so they are relating to a number of individuals and some groups and fewer levels of management. There may be some degree of overlap between the network pictures of managers in different functions. From an academic perspective, this leads to a number of questions relating to the degree of overlap; how much overlap in terms of depth and width, is necessary between individuals at different managerial levels in different organizations, for the relationship they are dealing with to run smoothly? What functions need to overlap and what degree of overlap between them is necessary for the relationship they are dealing with to be successful? From a practitioner perspective, posing such questions might lead managers to identify and solve inter-firm relationship problems. Second, our findings suggest that overlap between individual network pictures, both within the firm and between firms is relevant for different reasons. Overlap may be indicative of mutual awareness of various aspects of the relationship. Overlap may be indicative of the existence of communication channels between the individuals' network pictures. Although there is an overlap and a potential channel of communication it does not always mean it will be used, for example Gary's network picture encompasses Tony but Gary does not actually communicate with Tony at all. There may be a substantial degree of overlap and therefore a number of communication channels which exist but the individuals may not need to actually utilize them. Individuals then have to consider which communication channels to use, how often should they use them and what kind of information they should convey. Third, our findings suggest that network pictures act as a valuable tool for identifying not only where interaction points are, but where they are not – and by implication, where they are needed. The network pictures of the less senior managers' functions are quite detailed which may be indicative of the depth of knowledge they have in that area. When utilizing the communication channels how much of this information is transferred across functions and across management levels, what information is selected and what information is deselected? How many communication channels are transferring information to the decision makers? The information transferred will be used to make various decisions so it is vital that the decision maker has sufficient, appropriate information. There may be instances where there is a lack of overlap and a lack of potential communication channel where there should be one ideally. Network pictures may be useful in identifying where there should be communication channels. It is assumed that information is flowing up the managerial hierarchy from the lower managers to the seniors to assist them in relationship management decisions. The flow of information down the managerial hierarchy also needs to occur to enable the contract to be implemented. In examining the network pictures from individuals at each company, we compare individuals linking the two companies looking at who was communicating with whom, from what department and at what level. We were also able to identify who these individuals were communicating with in their own company (a crucial source of information). Chris (Company A) communicates with the key individuals in the principle areas: Mike (Company B) and John (Company A). Chris gathers substantial amounts of information which provides him with a holistic picture of the relationship which he can feedback up his organizational hierarchy to Gary. The fourth of our findings is that different individuals perceive the relationship atmosphere differently. This finding opens to debate as to whether it is desirable for individuals involved in the relationship to share the same perceptions. Perhaps such divergence is the sign of a healthy, dynamic and developing relationship. Regularity of communication, managerial level and degree of day-to-day involvement seem to be influencing the individuals' perception of the relationship atmosphere. It appears that the managers, for example, Chris, John and Tony, who work on a relationship daily and communicate regularly, have similar perceptions of the relationship. Their close involvement with day-to-day interactions provides a balanced perspective of what is working well, what needs improving and what has gone wrong in the relationship. However, the senior managers, Gary and Mike, have a slightly different perspective. This may be due to less day-to-day involvement in the relationship and less regular communication about the relationship. Our findings suggest that they are more involved in interactions between the organizations when something is going wrong with the relationship. This is likely to lead to a more negatively biased view of the relationship. There may also be a lack of acknowledgement from Tony, Chris and John to Gary and Mike when the relationship is going well. Diverging perceptions of the relationship atmosphere might suggest that a senior manager needs to be less involved in the relationship in order for them to make objective decisions in their company's interest. Further research might examine the degree of disparity in perceptions of the relationship atmosphere, investigating how disparity in individuals' perceptions of the relationship atmosphere can be influenced, possibly through increased frequency of communication internally, between managers and their seniors. This research has examined the network pictures of the individuals at Companies A and B. Further research is needed to determine whether the findings are applicable to the individuals in the wider business network (Easton & Araujo, 1994). Research then needs to investigate how the dynamics within Companies A and B affect their interactions with each other. This would entail comparing the dimensions of the individuals' network pictures from several companies identifying the similarities and differences and trying to determine what factors contribute to a successful relationship. Network pictures whilst not a theoretical concept in itself does provide a very useful tool for visually expressing other academic concepts. The network pictures provide only a very limited amount of information and therefore need to be complemented by the use of additional research tools including, in-depth interviews, in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the individuals' network pictures and their context. There is no standardized way of using or presenting network pictures. It is open to debate as to whether consistency of presentation of network pictures is necessary. While standardization would allow academics to readily understand any research using network pictures, it would also impose a framework on the individuals using network pictures. This might restrict their level of creativity and prevent the discovery of some interesting findings.