Interacting Strategically within Dyadic Business Relationships: A case study from the Norwegian Electronics Industry
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The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to our understanding of how firms can act strategically vis-à-vis others when the objective is to enhance the way resources are economised on across firm boundaries. The organisational science literature offers numerous perspectives on the idea of strategy where the dominating ones view strategy as an individual firm activity that the single firm formulates, communicates and executes independently of others. In this thesis, the idea of strategy is viewed as a relationship activity and a process that the single firm does together with counterparts. The term interacting strategically is therefore introduced and builds on the idea that strategy is a dynamic and bilateral process carried out through interaction within dyads. The Industrial Network Approach (INA) serves as the theoretical basis of the thesis and represents one school of thought that deals with the idea of strategy. The empirical base concerns one single case study of a dyadic business relationship (a product developer and subcontractor/producer) from the Norwegian Electronics Industry. The research techniques used to gather the material concerns primarily face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews and participation in business meetings. The material is cased chronologically. It is also split into three main subcases, where each case is marked with a critical event that the parties dealt with within the frame of the partnership arrangement. The case study is an example of how firms can interact strategically and the tactical, and the strategic decisions needed to deal with the limitations and opportunities experienced in the strategy process along the way. The findings demonstrate how firms relied on two purposeful acts to support and improve the way resources were economised on within the focal dyad. The first act concerns the efforts to initiate, develop and manage purposeful networking processes within the dyad. Specific groups of individuals became responsible for managing this networking and would function as connecter units responsibility for ensuring intra –and inter-firm alignment of various tactical and strategic decision-making processes taking place within the relationship. The second purposeful act concerns the introduction of various purposeful interaction programmes. These programmes represented specific attempts to formulate specific rules of conduct between actors involved in the industrialisation process. The aim was to help these individuals prioritise certain acts and interacts that the focal firms believed would activate specific subsets of resources enabling them to reach their economising objectives. The study then reveals some of the factors that support and/or constrain the parties from achieving the strategic objectives pursued in the relationship.
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