The complexity of actor interaction
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This study is about actor interaction and it is set in the Norwegian seafood industry. Since fish is a commodity, the idea of market complexity may not be the first thing that springs to mind. Markets defined by commodities are usually studied by models which are underpinned by neoclassical assumptions. Researchers from the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Group consider interaction to be a fundamental part of business exchange and this may explain why related studies are usually based in empirical contexts that have a perceived technical complexity. However, closer inspection of interaction between seafood actors reveals a complexity that is not well described by traditional marketing models. Thus, the IMP perspective provides an alternate view that formally captures more of the richness of the empirical setting. The data analysed has come from large seafood actors which are based in three different countries (Britain, Portugal and Chile), each of which is connected to seafood actors based in Norway. The interaction between the seafood actors in these settings are analysed to find out whether interaction is as straightforward as certain marketing models assume it to be. Once this has been done it is possible to see how a generic marketing organisation, the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NSEC), is affected by the interaction. This study presents a way of considering the complexity of actor interaction and how this develops over time from the interplay between direct and indirect interaction effects. This identification makes it possible to consider what NSEC can do in response to the indirect effects of seafood actor interaction. The study employs a multiple case study design and the cross sectional-like data enable interesting insights into the development of seafood networks. The actor interaction development model is one specific outcome of the analytical work and this, together with other aspects of the inquiry, contributes to the existing body of IMP literature.