Relationships and Networks in Context


What Do We Know So Far? Special issue of Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing; Deadline 31 May 2019


Special issue: Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

Relationships and networks in context: What do we know so far?

The IMP Group has transformed our understanding of inter-organisational networks and their roles in international business-to-business markets (Butler & Batt, 2014; Håkansson & Snehota, 2000; Johanson & Mattsson, 1994; Welsh & Wilkinson, 2004). Network theory has focused on the structural and behavioural implications of interaction and relationships. Interaction determines the behaviour of actors and explains the motives and driving forces that shape the behaviour of different actors in the network (Håkansson & Snehota, 1995). The interaction process embraces both economic transactions and social exchanges that occur in a competitive market (Cantu et al., 2013).

Networks were taken as a new paradigm for development in the late 1980s and early 1990s by business and academics in various parts of the world (Faria, 2005). However, there is still no general consensus on what represents or defines a network. What makes the concept even more challenging are the theoretical foundations of the term which lie at the intersection of multiple disciplines, including the biological sciences, mathematics, economics and sociology (Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2017). Grandori and Soda (1995) outlined 20 approaches to inter-firm networks, which demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature and the different schools of thought that have given rise to many identical terms with radically different definitions.

The dynamic environment within which business operates today is also impacting on the way in which firms structure their relationships with business partners. The rise of the transitional economies and multinationals are blurring the boundaries between actors in distribution and outsourcing, the way in which firms structure their strategic alliances, global sales and key account management processes, and the extent to which government and public policy influences markets and the global economy. The structural, social and economic bonds between businesses, public and private firms, and between technology, resources and people creates immense complexity and uncertainty in relationship management.

This special edition invites empirical (qualitative and quantitative) as well as conceptual research papers that contribute to a deeper understanding of network relationships in diverse business markets. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • networks in context
  • buyer-seller relationships
  • supply chain management
  • doing business across cultures
  • key account management
  • purchasing/procurement/sourcing/off-shoring
  • strategic alliances
  • managing risk and uncertainty
  • innovation within networks
  • structural transformation

Anticipated timelines

  • First submission May 1 – 31, 2019
  • Reviews to authors mid July
  • Revisions: mid August
  • Second review [if necessary] mid September
  • Final paper submission October 14, 2019
  • Publication: November/December 2019

Each article needs to be approximately 6000-8000 words long. For general author submission guidelines please click on the link:

Papers are to be submitted through the Emerald ScholarOne manuscript submission page between the dates of May 1 and May 31,

This is important for papers submitted outside this window cannot be considered for publication within this special edition.

Link to CfP

Guest editors

Dr Fawaz Baddar ALHussan
IESEG School of Management (LEM UMR CNRS 9221)
Université Catholique de Lille
3 Rue de la Digue
Lille 59000
Tel: +33 (0)320 545 892

Dr Peter J. Batt
IESEG School of Management
Université Catholique de Lille
3 Rue de la Digue
Lille 59000

Dr Faten Baddar AL-Husan
Newcastle University
102 Middlesex Street
London E1 7EZ
United Kingdom


Butler, B. & Batt, P.J. (2014). “Re-assessing value (co)-creation and cooperative advantage in international networks”, Industrial Marketing Management, 43(4), 538-542.

Cantu, C., Corsaro, D., Fiocca, R. & Tunisini, A. (2013). “IMP studies: A bridge between tradition and innovation”, Industrial Marketing Management, 42(7), 1007-1016.

Faria, A. (2005), “Theorising networks from a critical realist standpoint: the discovery of power and contextual issues within and outside ‘networks’”, in Ackroyd, S. & Fleetwood, S. (Eds), Critical Realist Applications in Organisation and Management Studies, London: Routledge, 193-213.

Håkansson, H. & Snehota, I. (1995), Developing Relationships in Business Networks, London: Routledge.

Håkansson, H. & Snehota, I. (2000), “The IMP perspective: assets and liabilities of business relationships”, in Sheth, J.N. and Parvatiyar, A. (Eds), Handbook of Relationship Marketing, Sage, Thousands Oak, CA, 69-94.

Grandori, A. & Soda, G. (1995). “Inter-Firm Networks: Antecedents, Mechanisms and Forms”, Organization Studies, 16(2), 183-214.

Johanson, J. & Mattsson, L-G. (1994), “The markets as-networks tradition in Sweden”, in Laurent, G., Lilien, G.L. and Pras, B. (Eds), Research Traditions in Marketing, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA, 321-342.

Ratajczak-Mrozek, M. (2017). “The Essence of the Network approach”, in Ratajczak-Mrozek, M. (ed.), Network Embeddedness: Examining the Effect on Business Performance and Internationalization, Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 27-59.

Welsh, C. & Wilkinson, I. (2004). “The political embeddedness of international business networks”, International Marketing Review, 21(2), 216-231