Network picturing: An action research study of strategizing in business networks

Morten H. Abrahamsen, Stephan C. Henneberg, Lars Huemer, Peter Naudé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our paper is concerned with how managers understand their surrounding network and what strategic actions they take based on this insight. Recent research in the areas of network management and business relationships shows increasing interest in the interplay between cognition and action, particularly on how managers relate perceptions about their business network (“network picturing”) to decision-making and strategizing activities. In this study, we apply a novel research approach combining process research and action research methodology. Our sample is introduced to business network theories and concepts, and the use and adaptation of these concepts results in managerial options being articulated and applied. Our findings add new insight in the field of network strategy and network picturing. Network picturing represents a way to understand the boundaries of the firm and how this understanding affects manager's decisions. This differs from the fundamental distinction between the external and the internal environments of classical strategy analysis. In terms of network picturing, strategizing is a way to understand the resulting actions or network outcomes that managers see as viable within their surrounding network. We also provide a conceptual process exercise as an example of how this insight can be relevant for managers in their decision-making processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-119
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Action research
  • Business networks
  • Business relationships
  • Decision-making
  • Network pictures
  • Strategy


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