A business network is a complex network of companies, working together to accomplish certain goals.
Several descriptions of business networks stipulate different types of characteristics:
- "A business network is far more than the business itself. As we have seen, it incorporates suppliers, customers, third-party developers, distributors, and others. These outsiders must have a reason to support your network and remain active in it."
- "A business network is generic and includes both smart and not-so-smart business networks.
- "A business network is owned by the business enterprise, where the scope of the network is to support the informational and operational requirements of the business such as marketing, sales, accounting, and manufacturing departments..."
With the increasing interest in business networks, there is also an increasing in interest in "the notion of ‘network pictures’ amongst researchers in the field of business-to-business marketing. Network pictures are managers’ subjective mental representations of their relevant business environment."
Study of business networks
In the late 20th century the study of business networks emerged in the specific field of industrial markets. Researchers concentrate on questions such as "what is happening underneath the visible flows of products, enquiries, sales visits and negotiations, and beyond the visible growth and prosperity of some companies and failure of others". Snehota & Hakansson (1995) explain:
For more than twenty years we have been looking over and into this field as researchers and consultants searching for answers to the many questions that the working of industrial markets raises. Unlike consumer markets, industrial markets are often not much known either to the wider public or, we are tempted to say, to many management scholars. We have been amazed by the complexity of the industrial markets and at the same time by the apparent smoothness of their working. Gradually, we have acquired respect for their importance and complexity and learnt something about how they work.
We do not think we have anything like final answers. Far from it. However, we strongly believe that we have learnt something about the forces at work in the industrial markets. In this book we have tried to condense what we have learned to one picture that we would like to share with others. The reason why we dare to share this picture with others is that we have not acquired it in isolation, but through a learning process together with many others, both practitioners and fellow researchers.
- Ford, David, Lars-Erik Gadde, and Håkan Håkansson. Managing business relationships. (2003).
- Jeffrey Word (2009). Business Network Transformation: Strategies to Reconfigure Your Business Relationships for Competitive Advantage. p. 198
- Peter Vervest (2005) Smart Business Networks. p. 20
- Lundy Lewis (2001) Managing Business and Service Networks. p. 138
- Henneberg, Stephan C., Stefanos Mouzas, and Peter Naudé. "Network pictures: concepts and representations." European Journal of Marketing 40.3/4 (2006): 408-429.
- Snehota, Ivan, and Hakan Hakansson, eds. Developing relationships in business networks. Londres: Routledge, 1995. p. xii