Time and Process


Time and process in business network research, Special issue of Industrial Marketing Management, Edited by Aino Halinen, Christopher J. Medlin and Jan-?ke T?rnroos; Deadline 31 Oct 2010

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Call for papers
Industrial Marketing Management
Special Issue

“Time and process in business network research”

Submission deadline 31 October 2010

Guest editors

Aino Halinen, Turku School of Economics, Finland
Christopher J. Medlin, Business School, University of Adelaide, Australia
Jan-Åke Törnroos, School of Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

The Interaction and Network Approach to industrial marketing describes business markets as structures formed by inter-firm relationships and processes of interaction occurring between companies and ultimately creating the structure (Ford & Håkansson 2006). Networks of inter-firm relationships are viewed as inherently dynamic and changing. Yet, research has not much progressed in terms of depicting and understanding the process characteristics of interaction and networks.

Researchers face various challenges when investigating process. Ford and Håkansson (2006) suggest the interactive nature of business relationships to form a key challenge. The basic tenet of the Interaction and Network Approach is that change and dynamics are based on interaction processes between active and purposeful actors in the network and that no actor can operate fully independently. In such conditions change and process is difficult to depict. Halinen and Törnroos (2005) identify another challenge: the lack of methodological tools for the study of networks and process. The complexity of business networks as a study object leads inevitably to increased complexity at the methodological domain. Business networks are temporally and socially embedded structures. Companies are connected to each other through direct and indirect relationships, which adds to the complexity and methodological difficulty (Easton 1995). Also time, the key category through which humans perceive their world and through which the process becomes comprehensible, is a complex and varied concept (Halinen & Törnroos 1995; Medlin 2004). Time is typically taken for granted and treated as a simple, absolute measure, which results in an utterly one-sided and mechanistic view of process. Making sense of business interaction would require a more profound exploration of time and also timing as a managerial activity.

This Special Issue is to provide a forum for further development of the study of time and process in business networks. Both theoretical and methodological inputs are needed to create an understanding of business interaction as a process and networks as dynamic phenomena. We welcome contributions on three topic areas in particular: the meaning of time and process, the timing of business action and the methods for studying business interaction over time.

Time acts as an environment for interaction, constraining and shaping resource deployment and exchange activities between companies. However, interaction only occurs through social interpretation of time (Medlin 2004). Perceptions of time and timing influence the behavior of managers and firms. Specifically, understanding of time and timing shapes the subjective interpretation of interdependence, the nature of joint activity and connectedness, and the roles and positions of actors in a network. The importance of time and timing in conceptualizing business networks deserves greater attention. We particularly seek papers that elaborate managers’ understanding of interaction in business networks over time.

Similarly, the conceptual and methodological tools that are used to study business action in time should be studied and developed. It is methodologically challenging to get access to process, to identify change and to explain it in a network context. Methods are also contingent upon the adopted notion of time. The present lack of appropriate methods and difficulties with process methodology hinder the development of network theory. We particularly welcome papers that develop new methodological tools or adjust existing ones to better apply to the study of business interaction in networks.

The Special Issue should provide answers to the following questions:

  • How is time constructed by managers so as to enhance/reduce change?
  • How do managers influence timing of change?
  • How is time connected to strategy and strategizing in networks?
  • How do researchers incorporate time into their theories, methodological tools and empirical research designs?
  • What time concepts can be used in network research and how?
  • Which analytical concepts offer researchers an understanding of process (e.g. embeddedness, network pictures, events)?
  • How can researchers make better sense of process and get access to business interaction in time?

We welcome all kinds of papers, whether theoretical, methodological or empirical as far as they create an original contribution to industrial network research in terms of time and process.

All manuscripts should follow the general guidelines for authors of Industrial Marketing Management. (See http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/505720/authorinstructions) Manuscripts must not have been published or be under consideration in other journals.

Please submit your paper electronically to each of the IMM Special Issue Editors:

Aino Halinen, Turku School of Economics, Finland (aino.halinen-kaila@tse.fi); Christopher J. Medlin, Business School, University of Adelaide, Australia (chris.medlin@adelaide.edu.au); Jan-Åke Törnroos, Åbo Akademi University, Finland (jtornroo@abo.fi); and copy the IMM editor Peter LaPlaca (plaplaca@journalimm.com).


(Available http://www.business.adelaide.edu.au/research/IMM-Call-for-Papers-Time-Process/)

Easton, G. (1995), "Methodology and Industrial Networks," in Business Marketing: An Interaction and Network Perspective, Kris Möller and David T. Wilson, eds., Norwell (MA): Kluwer Academic Publishing, 411 – 492.

Ford, D. and H. Håkansson (2006), "The Idea of Business Interaction," The IMP Journal, 1 (1), 4-27.

Halinen, A. and J.-Å. Törnroos (2005), "Using Case Methods in the Study of Contemporary Business Networks," Journal of Business Research, 58 (9), 1285-1297.

Medlin, C.J. (2004), "Interaction in Business Relationships: A Time Perspective," Industrial Marketing Management, 33 (3), 185-193.