تیم تحقیقاتی بین المللی به عنوان تحلیلگران شبکه های کسب و کار صنعتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|4419||2010||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9565 کلمه|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 39, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 40–48
This paper analyzes case studies in the context of industrial business networks, and in particular from the IMP (Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Group) perspective. Two features have been prominent in this research tradition: collaboration in international research teams and interest in business between international customers and their suppliers. Still, researchers seldom discuss the challenges with the international aspects of the research team (as the subject of study) or of the business relations (as the object of study). This paper shows the complications of analyzing international business relations, namely, relations that cross national boundaries, and investigates how an international research team can tackle the challenges of international business network studies. The key contributions are, firstly, to indicate the lack of attention on the methodological requirements and opportunities that the international features create for the analysis of business networks and, secondly, to investigate how collaboration in an international research team may advance the analysis of both international industrial marketing relations and broader business networks.
A prominent research tradition that has been increasingly adopted for the analysis of industrial marketing concentrates on business networks and is closely related to the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Group. Given that this research community has a relatively long track record in doing empirical research and often using qualitative and rich case studies, the network tradition gives a fruitful basis for discussing methodological concerns in the investigation of industrial markets by case studies. The initial aim of the IMP Group was to carry out a large-scale study on business marketing and purchasing between five European countries; the goal of the individual researchers was to broaden the empirical basis of their studies (Håkansson, 1982). Since then, two features have been prominent in this research tradition: first, international research cooperation and international research teams are common, and second, as Ford (2004) notes, researchers have been interested in learning about what happens in business between international customers and their suppliers. The former feature is visible in, for instance, the high number of joint publications and the relatively tight research community involving researchers from different countries (see Morlacchi et al., 2005 and Mattsson and Johanson, 2004). The latter aspect, in turn, has led to a clearly visible orientation to develop concepts for the analysis of international business networks ( Ford, 2004 and Johanson and Mattsson, 1988). Still, research reports seldom discuss the challenges that the international features of the research team (as the subject of study) or the business relations and networks (as the object of study) may bring to the analysis. The international dimensions of the research setting seem to be taken for granted, and perhaps therefore, not challenged at all in current studies. The recent advances of qualitative research methods for international business (Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004a, Clark and Michailova, 2004 and , 2006) show convincingly how foreign research sites and different (e.g. national, cultural and linguistic) contexts provoke challenges and also particular potential for empirical research. Indeed, often the context constitutes the very nature of empirical fieldwork (Michailova & Clark, 2004). This paper argues that since the international dimension is often present in the contemporary case studies on business networks, it also calls for more methodological attention. While business relationships may in several respects be universal by nature, there are important contingencies related to the context (both foreign research sites and different contexts of business actors) that need to be considered. Given that the researchers of international business relationships are interested in interaction and connections, it becomes relevant also to understand how the analysts in practice cross the national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. This paper shows the complications that are present in the analysis of business relations that cross national boundaries, namely, are international. The aim is to investigate how an international research team can tackle the issues that the international dimension brings to the case analysis of business networks. The contribution of the paper is, firstly, to indicate the lack of attention on the methodological requirements and opportunities that the international features cause for the analysis of business networks and, secondly, to investigate how collaboration in an international research team may advance the analysis of international business networks. The discussion is valid for examining both international industrial marketing relations and broader business networks. Business networks may be analyzed with various approaches and methodologies (for examples of quantitative method choices, see e.g. Solberg and Durrieu, 2006 and Iacobucci and Hopkins, 1992), but case studies with a qualitative approach are common. They are fruitful in analyzing industrial marketing (Woodside & Wilson, 2003) and especially in capturing the richness and holism that prevail in business networks (Easton, 1995). This paper focuses on case studies for investigating international networks and on international research teams in particular, and thus adds to the recent methodological discussion on case research in industrial markets and networks (Dubois and Gadde, 2002, Dubois and Araujo, 2004 and Halinen and Törnroos, 2005). This paper adopts the relationship view to industrial marketing. This choice directs attention to the interaction between the business actors in international networks. From the IMP perspective, international industrial marketing is “the complex task of finding suitable individual relationship counterparts, whether end-users or intermediaries and developing relationships with them” (Ford, 2004, p. 139). The ontological and epistemological premises of the network approach make it peculiar, and the analysis of interaction rather than the partners has fundamental implications for empirical analysis. To focus the discussion, other approaches to industrial marketing are therefore left aside here. Another explicit limitation of the paper is to concentrate on networks in business-to-business markets, although networks have aroused a wide interest in other fields, too. Management, organization and international business scholars have produced extensive analyses on international relations. Although these are not considered here, many of the issues presented are valid for analyzing relationships more generally, for instance, as comes to management of MNCs. The paper is organized as follows. First, a literature review shows that international business networks have been an object and a context for several studies within the IMP tradition, although little methodological attention has been given to the international dimension so far. The next section investigates the challenges that this dimension brings to the analysis of business networks. The third section looks at team work in the analysis of business networks, and focuses on case studies in particular. The discussion section reflects on the advantages of having an international team as opposed to a single investigator when analyzing international business networks. It also summarizes the key requirements for research team work and their pitfalls. The concluding note outlines some implications for further team work in the area of international business network studies.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Several network studies have had the international dimensions of business relations as their object of analysis. Researchers have been interested in looking at the features of international and intercultural business relationships, foreign market entry and processes of firm internationalization. Even when the focus has not been on international business as such, investigations have often concerned networks that in fact are international. Still, researchers have not explicated what it means methodologically to analyze relationships that cross national borders. Neither have they commented on the influence of international research teams on investigations. Methodological discussions so far have noted several complexities of network analysis and this paper adds one more: the international dimension of both the research object and the analysts. The key challenge in the analysis of international business networks is to understand the different (national and cultural) contexts of the business actors and how these affect the interaction behavior, and thus business relations. For an analyst, this means operations also in foreign research sites, which is in many ways demanding. Case studies that are conducted by international teams of researchers seem to be fruitful for tackling the complexities. This paper has discussed how the team members may operate to gain access to the variety of informants and thus business relations, and also how they work internally in the research team. External activities help gain knowledge of the contexts of the actors and relationships, whereas internal operations — at the different stages of the research process — are crucial for reflecting, synthesizing and analyzing these accounts. As a result, a well-functioning team may create a better understanding of the international business relations that cross national borders. International cooperation is not without problems, and in the worst case, a team that aims at understanding the international context does not manage to tackle the international challenges (e.g. different conceptions about time, stereotypes, coordination problems) within the team. This paper is an attempt to reduce these problems by pointing out the special features of international research efforts. It is critical to note that working in a team affects both the practicalities and fundamentals of research processes, and may thus in many ways affect our research results. It seems that so far, researchers have not been sensitive to the team and international implications, and therefore, perhaps not even benefiting from these enough. This paper has several implications for further research on international business networks. Firstly, we clearly need to know more of collaborative research and how international research teams function in practice. We are still lacking information on, for instance, how explicitly joint projects are designed and formulated, and whether researchers in fact consider the challenges and potential of working within an international team, as opposed to individually. Secondly, single researchers may also develop their own methodological and analytic skills by considering the issues raised here. For both purposes, the paper raises a number of questions for researchers to consider: • How heterogeneous is the research team? Is diversification used to the full? • What different language and communication skills are available and are they in their best use? • Do the members appreciate the variety of skills, personalities and backgrounds, and do they succeed in avoiding stereotypical thinking? • Is the team actively working towards a joint understanding of the different contexts? • How is the contextual information directed towards understanding the border–crossing interaction in international business relations? • Are the research processes within the team proper, and is enough effort given to specifying and following the common rules for research? • Is enough time given to reflection, namely, to the analysis and discussion of the findings from different research sites and different relationships? • And also, how is the research process reflected on and discussed in reports? In essence, researchers should recognize that the decision to organize and conduct the research project by a team instead of single analysts, ties up with the fundamental choices that are made in any research. In particular, more analysis is needed on the question of how the team of researchers works or should work in the central area of matching, or linking theory to empiria, with the help of the case and framework. With regard to the managerial results of the studies, one may expect better rigor from efficient team work vs. single researcher. The discussions and interpretations taking place within the international and multicultural team are likely to lead to a better understanding of managerial realities in different contexts. This is especially important in the analysis of business networks, as these are essentially built on managerial interpretation and perceptions. This paper shows that international business relations mean crossing national, cultural and language boundaries — in addition to overcoming all the other business challenges. It argues that these boundaries need to be considered and crossed by the analysts as well.