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On the promise and premises of a Darwinian theory in research on business relationships
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business. (CEROC)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3922-578X
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business. (PRIME Research)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9964-7717
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. Vol. 42, no 3, p. 306-315
Keywords [en]
Darwinism, Scientific explanations, Evolution, Generalized Darwinism, Business relationships
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-28674DOI: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2013.02.006ISI: 000320298500005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84877811428OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-28674DiVA, id: diva2:615852
Available from: 2013-04-12 Created: 2013-04-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. On business relationships as Darwinian systems: an exploration into how Darwinian systems thinking can supportbusiness relationship research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On business relationships as Darwinian systems: an exploration into how Darwinian systems thinking can supportbusiness relationship research
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:nbn:se:oru:diva-28634 (URN)978-91-7668-927-1 (ISBN)
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, evolution
Available from: 2013-04-09 Created: 2013-04-09 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, TobiasKask, Johan

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