Organizational Networking in Business-to-Business MarketsConstruct Conceptualization, Operationalization and Application

  • Sabrina Thornton

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis focuses on one key theme, which is to understand the construct of organizational networking behaviors in business-to-business markets. It is concerned with two main issues, which are built into the research program of three empirical studies. The first issue is concerned with a systematic understanding of organizational behaviors in response to the embeddedness and interconnectedness of the network of business relationships that every organization has to deal with. Study 1 of the research program explores the concept termed 'organizational networking behaviors'. This study adopts an industrial network approach, the central tenet of which is that firms undertake a continuous process of interaction with their important partners in the embedding context of the business network. A multi-informant approach, using semi-structured interviews, was used to collect qualitative data from thirty-one executive managers (in fifteen manufacturing firms in the UK). This study identified information acquisition, opportunity enabling, strong-tie resource mobilization and weak-tie resource mobilization as four types of organizational networking behaviors, which are reflected by their respective sub-types.The resulting conceptualization of organizational networking forms the basis for the operationalization of the construct in Study 2. While Study 1 takes an exploratory qualitative approach, Study 2 deploys a confirmatory quantitative approach since it is necessary to confirm/refute the resulting conceptualization and its types from Study 1. A rigorous scale construction and validation process was followed in this study. The conceptualization of the measurement model was carefully considered based on its theoretical underpinning. A second-order formative measurement structure was conceptualized, which required the employment of a multiple indicators and multiple causes (MIMIC) model for the validation of such a measurement model. A dataset of 603 responses was collected and analyzed to confirm the structure of the four types of organizational networking behaviors, which is in line with the results of Study 1.The second issue that the thesis is concerned with is the influences of such organizational networking efforts, which are examined from a firm's behavioral perspective. Study 3 examines how organizational networking behaviors serve as the driver of a firm's customer-oriented, competitor-oriented and relationship-oriented behaviors due to the sensing and seizing aspects of networking. It was also hypothesized that a firm's customer-oriented, competitor-oriented and relationship-oriented behaviors positively affect firm performance. The test of these hypotheses required survey data collection, which was done through an on-line questionnaire. A dataset of 354 responses was collected from UK managers, whose organizations operate in business-to-business markets in either the manufacturing or services sectors. The use of statistical modeling techniques is similar to that of Study 2. The research results indicate that a firm's network-oriented behaviors positively impact on the development of customer-oriented and competitor-oriented behaviors. They also foster relationship coordination with its important business partners within the network. In addition, the effective management of the firm's portfolio of relationships is found to mediate the positive impact of network-oriented behaviors on firm profitability.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPeter Naude (Supervisor) & Stephan Henneberg (Supervisor)


  • MIMIC model
  • Structural equation modelling
  • Scale development
  • Network Management
  • Business-to-business markets
  • Organizational networking

Cite this