How Should a Small Company Interact in Its Business Network to Sustain Its Exchange Effectiveness?

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In this paper we followed the dynamic alignment between networking approaches and business development of a small firm in the printing industry, with the aim of investigating how a small firm embedded in its network can deal with networking paradoxes when developing its business, such that it efficiently maintains its existing business and keeps its flexibility to develop new business. The empirical contribution of this paper lies in the use of a longitudinal case study that enables us to show the intermediary functions of counterparts along the path of a small firm's business and network development. Three mediating functions of counterparts are introduced: the relating, joining and insulating functions. In the study we saw that joining functions of intermediaries were especially used in opportunity creation, while insulating functions of intermediaries were especially used in opportunity exploitation. The case study indicates an evolution into an efficient sales network with an important partner who is not willing to develop new business with Atlas. An explanation for the unwillingness to see the focal firm as a development partner might be found in its network position, reflected in the moderate technological and business integration of their product in customer applications, the weak contact of focal firm with end users, and the insulating function of distributors and original equipment manufacturers, who isolated the focal firm from end users. Managerial implications are drawn and will be investigated in further research.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
JournalCreativity and innovation management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • METIS-251394
  • IR-71786

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