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On business relationships as Darwinian systems: an exploration into how Darwinian systems thinking can supportbusiness relationship research
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9964-7717
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The demarcation between different traditions in contemporary research on business relationships reflects theoretical and methodological difficulties in the conceptualization of the nature of business relationships and how such relationships evolve. To tackle these problems, this thesis explores the fruitfulness of regarding business relationships as Darwinian systems, which accentuates kinship between Darwinism and systems thinking, and elaborates a treatment of business relationship transmutation as an iterative dynamic process that does not take the existence of business relationships – or the sequence of developmental stages – for granted.

The thesis draws on findings in four essays as well as a stand-alone extended summary. These five parts complete the thesis. The discussion advances the idea that the tenets of systems thinking and of Generalized Darwinism are aligned and can provide a novel explanatory paradigm, although it takes marketing rigor to specify an emergent framework that conceptualizes the nature and evolution of business relationships. The concluding part elaborates the steps required for a more comprehensive Darwinian system theory of business relationships.

A main contribution of the thesis is the exploration of an emergent theoretical composite – new to marketing – that integrates systems thinking, Generalized Darwinism and established business relationship conjectures. The thesis asserts the importance of configurational fit; the interaction between variation-creation and selective preservation to form a full Darwinian story; and the meaning of a logical distinction between manifested characteristics and the underlying instructions directing the former. Furthermore, the firm–relationship–market system hierarchy outlined highlights the business relationship as an emergent organizational form at a level above that of the individual firm, stressing the importance of its dual nature and as an evolving system alike, thus endorsing research to tackle the central theoretical and methodological difficulties of business relationships’ nature and evolution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2013. , p. 140
Series
Örebro Studies in Business - Dissertations ; 6
National Category
Economics and Business
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-28634ISBN: 978-91-7668-927-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-28634DiVA, id: diva2:615194
Public defence
2013-05-31, Hörsal T (teknikhuset), Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
marketing, business relationships, systems thinking, philosophy of science, generalized darwinism, evolutionAvailable from: 2013-04-09 Created: 2013-04-09 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. On the promise and premises of a Darwinian theory in research on business relationships
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On the promise and premises of a Darwinian theory in research on business relationships
2013 (English)In: Industrial Marketing Management, ISSN 0019-8501, E-ISSN 1873-2062, Vol. 42, no 3, p. 306-315Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The use of ‘Darwinism’ and generalizations of Darwin's idea outside the domain of its traditional biological application are advancing. In the field of industrial marketing, this has appeared mostly in the form of an interest in using biological analogies or isolated parts of a fuller Darwinian theory when theorizing about business relationships. In this article, we combine the general advancements of Darwinism in social science with the recent Darwinian-inspired theorizing on business relationships. The article reviews business relationship studies within marketing that explicitly uses Darwinism and results in the identification of six gaps and directions for future research. The most significant implication of the review is that investigations into the evolution of business relationships should account not only for the mechanism of selection but also for the mechanisms of variation and retention, in order to take proper account of the Darwinian explanatory paradigm. By suggesting ‘generalized Darwinism’ as an overriding framework, we argue that it is time to go from merely flirting with some Darwinian ideas to explicitly exploring the promise of using the Darwinianexplanans in research on business relationships. We put forward suggestions on how central Darwinian mechanisms could be warranted and conceptualized in a theory explaining the evolution of business relationships.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013
Keywords
Darwinism, Scientific explanations, Evolution, Generalized Darwinism, Business relationships
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-28674 (URN)10.1016/j.indmarman.2013.02.006 (DOI)000320298500005 ()2-s2.0-84877811428 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-04-12 Created: 2013-04-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Business mating in stable and turbulent markets: does the configuration fit?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Business mating in stable and turbulent markets: does the configuration fit?
2011 (English)In: 2011 Global Business Conference: Conference Proceedings / [ed] Goran Vlašić, Jurica Pavičić, Zoran Wittine, Zagreb: Innovation Institute , 2011, p. 237-Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

We theorize that invention-centric novel firms (ICNF) have the greatest chance to mate with an incumbent business partner when their invention fit with leadership style and the state of the market situation. Two different configurations are proposed both leading to high chance for ICNFs to succeed in business mating: When there is no current dominant design in the market, ICNFs will be more thriving in business mating if they have entrepreneurial leadership and a radical invention. Conversely, where there is a current dominant design present ICNFs are most prosperous in business mating if leadership is conservative and the invention incremental. These two equifinal ways to business mating express the value of holistically investigating configurations including both firm-specific and market-specific conditions rather than study one condition at a time. This claim advances us past the market versus firm debate and elaborates a theory whence greater understanding of business mating is possible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Zagreb: Innovation Institute, 2011
Keywords
Business Mating, Configurations, Invention, Leadership Style, Dominant Design
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-28727 (URN)
Conference
Global Business Conference 2011, Sibenik, Croatia, September 21-24, 2011
Note

Best Paper Award

Available from: 2013-04-17 Created: 2013-04-17 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
3. Asymmetrically realized absorptive capacity and relationship durability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Asymmetrically realized absorptive capacity and relationship durability
2012 (English)In: Management Decision, ISSN 0025-1747, E-ISSN 1758-6070, Vol. 50, no 1, p. 43-57Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Absorbing knowledge from partner firms is a key feature of marketing relationships. Recent publications have called for more dynamic and cognitive approaches in marketing relationship research. Also, established definitions of absorptive capacities have been questioned. This article aims to address propositions that take these overlooked and questioned elements into consideration, which can help explain conducts and dependencies, and affect relationship durability.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors put forward four propositions by combining literature on interfirm relationships and managerial cognition with evolutionary ideas from marketing and management literature.

Findings: The authors embrace a redefinition of potential absorptive capacity (the disposed capacity to absorb knowledge) and realized absorptive capacity (the absorption of knowledge actually performed). This distinction can, to some extent, be explained by the degree of cognitive attention given to the marketing relationship. Moreover, asymmetrically realized absorptive capacityvis-à-vis a partner substantially influences the dynamics of partners' conduct and dependency, which may vary the risk that the relationship will end.

Practical implications: The propositions illustrate how a motivated partner that gives more attention to the relationship is more likely to absorb more knowledge than its counterpart, which can threaten the durability of a relationship. Thus, managers need to be able to understand possible long-term consequences of the partner's conduct in order to avoid losses of joint strategic resources and relational benefits.

Originality/value: By advocating an evolutionary approach, an impetus for more dynamism in marketing relationship research is presented. This study also shows the importance of including the longitudinal dimension in analysis if one wants to understand change in – and durability of – marketing relationships.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012
Keywords
Customer relationship management; Knowledge management; Partners
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15889 (URN)10.1108/00251741211194868 (DOI)000303029000004 ()2-s2.0-84856194874 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2011-06-13 Created: 2011-06-13 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
4. Evolving Market Channels in the Swedish Music Industry: A Dominant design approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evolving Market Channels in the Swedish Music Industry: A Dominant design approach
2011 (English)In: Studies in industrial renewal: coping with changing contexts / [ed] Esbjörn Segelod, Karin Berglund, Erik Bjurström, Erik Dahlquist, Lars Hallén and Ulf Johansson, Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2011, p. 95-115Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2011
Keywords
Market Channels, Dominant Design, Evolution, Music Industry, Renewal
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-28725 (URN)978-91-7485-038-3 (ISBN)
Available from: 2013-04-17 Created: 2013-04-17 Last updated: 2018-03-01Bibliographically approved

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