Relationship and Networking Strategy Tools: What are they and how do managers use them in practice?
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This dissertation examines the topic of tools for strategizing in business relationships and networks. Previous studies in the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) approach to strategizing as well as selected strategy tool studies from Strategy-as-Practice (SaP) have provided valuable insights on this topic. The term ‘strategy tools’ covers a set of concepts, methods, models, techniques, frameworks and methodologies that structure or influence strategic activity. While IMP studies have started to embrace strategizing and SaP has made the position clear that tools are important practices that deserve empirical attention, the topic of tools for strategizing in business relationships and networks remains underexplored in IMP in two respects. First, too little conceptual attention has been given to tools for strategizing in business relationships and networks, despite the recognition that tools are helpful to assist managers to move beyond cognitive boundaries. Second, too little empirical attention has been given to tools for strategizing in business relationships and networks, despite tools being a significant part of managerial life as an empirical phenomenon. The purpose of this PhD thesis is to provide a starting point to address ‘strategy tools’, conceptually and empirically, within the IMP approach to strategizing focusing on two questions: (1) Which types of tools for strategizing in business relationships have been conceptualized and discussed in the IMP literature, and (2) How do managers use tools when strategizing in business relationships? To examine these questions, this dissertation employs a manual qualitative content analysis approach to systematically review literature and build a conceptual framework. Regarding practices as a set of tools in the IMP approach to strategizing, a multiple embedded case study design investigating tool uses in 16 buyer and seller relationships using the qualitative research interview method was employed to conduct the field research. The thesis contributes to literature on the IMP approach to strategizing in five ways. First, the term ‘relationship and networking strategy tools’ (RNSTs) has been put forth as a distinct concept to encompass tools relevant for strategizing in business relationships and networks. Second, a fine-tuned conceptual framework of RNSTs with four commonalities and six differing dimensions to structure and stimulate discussions concerning tools for strategizing in business relationships and networks has been developed. Third, an initial IMP strategy toolbox, which more clearly outlines the IMP approach to strategizing using tools, is presented. Fourth, this thesis also contributes by suggesting a six-part typology of interactive strategizing categories where two additional strategizing configurations to the literature are being discussed. Finally, taking a broader perspective, this thesis has also taken steps to broaden the interpretation of strategy tool uses by proposing a ‘tools-in-interaction’ matrix, which discusses an additional dimension further to the thinking of strategy tool uses in systematic and experimental ways - that of using tools proactively and reactively in interactive contexts.
Has partsPaper 1: Cheng, Caroline Y; Holmen, Elsebeth. Relationship and networking strategy tools: characterizing the IMP toolbox. The IMP Journal 2015 ;Volum 9.(2) s. 177-207 - Is not available due to copyright available at https://doi.org/10.1108/IMP-03-2015-0013
Paper 2: Cheng, Caroline Y; Havenvid, Malena. Investigating strategy tools from an interactive perspective. The IMP Journal 2017 ;Volum 11.(1) s. 127-149 - Is not available due to copyright available at https://doi.org/10.1108/IMP-09-2015-0049
Paper 3: Cheng, C., & Harrison, D. How managers interact using strategy tools. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing. - Is not available due to copyright