Last week I attended an IMP Journal seminar in Milan.
IMP stands for Industrial Marketing and Purchasing. This is a group of researchers developing a dynamic and interactive network based view of buyer-supplier relationships. The main ideas behind this marketing, purchasing, and management research thinking were developed by Uppsala university researchers Håkan Håkansson and Ivan Snehota in the mid 1970s.
The main focus of the IMP group researchers is on the way how companies do business and how they interact in order to succeed in the market. According to the IMP approach, relationships between companies have a stabile and long-term nature. Companies tend to organize business networks in order to get access to the resources of other market actors (their partners). This is due to the fact, that a single company has no needed resources to produce a product or to provide a service alone. Company is seen as being embedded in its environment.
Hence, only a combination of different resources of different actors leads to a successful market performance of all involved actors in the network. And this is different from traditional management approach where each company is analyzed as a single entity having its own resources not connected to its surroundings.
Interrelations of the network actors can be analyzed using different models, for example, actor – resource – action (ARA) model that helps to map the business network and relationships between actors.
Currently, a number of researchers applying this tradition in marketing, purchasing, business management, or logistics related studies is growing.
The IMP seminar’s purpose was to discuss papers for a special IMP journal edition. Each participant of the seminar (or an author that submitted a paper) became a reviewer for a paper of another author. Each paper had two reviewers. The long practice of personal meetings of authors and reviewers, and group discussions about possible improvements leads to improved quality of publications.
I was reviewing and presenting a paper “Interaction processes in horizontal relationships – Towards a model for analyzing strategic alliances” written by researches from Portugal. My paper was reviewed by two IMP researchers from Italy. They have provided a number of critical comments and suggestions for improvement of a paper.
The overall seminar was very useful, because the main developers of the IMP school of thinking Håkan Håkansson, Ivan Snehota, and Alexandra Waluszewski were present during discussions and giving explanations of different theoretical aspects.