Network picturing: An action research study of strategizing in business networks
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionIndustrial Marketing Management, 59(2016)November, 107-119 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2016.02.006
This paper aims to understand how managers use network pictures in their strategizing decisions. In business networks, strategizing concerns decisions about how to interact with, mobilize and influence other actors through connected relationships. One way to understand how managers strategize is to understand their network picturing processes. Network picturing is concerned with how managers’ network pictures (their understanding or sensemaking of their network of connected relationships) translate into managerial analysis, options and decisions about networking activities. The study presents a novel research design within the industrial network tradition. It utilizes an action research design including elements from process research and longitudinal case studies, where a group of managers is followed over a three-year period. Through interviews and exercises, the study investigates how the participant managers understand and act in their business network. The results indicate that using network pictures to map connected relationships proves to be a meaningful theory-in-use and a practical tool for managers. The participating managers have become more aware of the complexity and interconnectedness of business relationships. The results also suggest that the network picturing process may occur in three distinct phases, where the managers gain a more nuanced and detailed understanding of the network, and are thus able to actively engage in broader and deeper networking activities. However, this process is both dynamic and messy, and includes incidences of re-evaluating network pictures in light of unexpected network outcomes. The findings contribute to our knowledge of the interplay between cognition and action, a conceptually as well as managerially under-researched area. It adds to our understanding of network pictures by analyzing how this concept is used to understand managerial decision-making. Additionally, it complements the existing strategy and management literature by suggesting that managers create and recreate their understanding of the network by interacting with one another, where network picturing is an ongoing process analysis that in itself transforms perceptions of the “inside” and “outside” commonly associated with classical strategy and SWOT analyses.
This is the accepted and refereed manuscript to the article