Facilitating value co-creation in networks: An empirical analysis of business networks in Ringsted Municipality

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

Abstract

The dissertation investigates through two ethnographic case studies how value co-creation takes place in inter-organizational networks that have been facilitated by a municipality. The contribution of the study to business network research is the emphasis on development phases of networks and the facilitation of business networks in a local business context. In previous research, inter-organizational networks have been seen as frameworks for exchange of information or as learning communities that emerge bottom-up. Little attention has been paid to business networks that are facilitated by a municipality and how participants in such networks come to experience the value of networking over time.
The overall research question is:
How do processes of network facilitation support value co-creation in local business networks?
The dissertation is positioned within the field of inter-organizational network studies. Based on Newell, it is argued that two major streams of literature about networking can be identified: 1) Network as channels and 2) Network as communities (Newell et al., 2009). Yet, these say little about how business networks may be dynamically created within a local context and how participants in varied ways come to grasp the meaning of networking. The dissertation draws on insights from the Service-Dominant (S-D) Logic to explain how networks can be seen as spheres for value co-creation. Co-creation as a theoretical construct has evolved from varied streams of service marketing research and within the Service Dominant (S-D) Logic. Attention is given to how provider and customer together co-create value for the customer, the so-called value-in-use of a given product or service. In this dissertation the co-creation construct is applied to studying the value of networking taking place among network participants (=customers) and network facilitator (=provider).
The study draws heavily on the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism to explain how networking interactions lead to value co-creation. Symbolic interactionism offers a solid perspective for analyzing and discussing ethnographic data concerning social interaction. The theoretical framework brings to the fore an analysis of the emerging reflexive interactions taking place among participants and facilitator. A reflexive and interpretive approach to the empirical data has been applied in order to make use of symbolic interactionism in the study.
Two in-depth ethnographic case studies provide the empirical basis for the dissertation. The dissertation has constructed ethnographic narratives of the following two networks in Ringsted Municipality:
•Network 1: CSR network
•Network 2: Network for managing directors
The dissertation develops thick descriptions of the networking efforts taking place among participants and a facilitator in these two business networks, which have been closely investigated during their ups and downs over approximately 1½ year. Through the ethnographic narratives, the study shows how the facilitator and participants carefully tried to transform their imagined value of participating in the networking into more proper and realistic conceptualizations of value. The narratives show how participants and facilitator in both networks engage in reflexive interactions to determine the value of networking. The concept of “imaginative value” (Beckert, 2011) is used to explain the oscillating behaviors observed in the two networks. Imaginative value can be defined as symbolic value that actors ascribe to an object, in this case the network. I argue that the group practices in the networks led participants to create imaginative values, but that the network participants also continuously struggled to escape the impression of imaginative value through reflexive strategies. Further, it is discussed how boundary objects and trust are phenomena with importance for processes of value co-creation in the inter-organizational networks
By examining the various activities taking place within the networks, it has become possible to highlight collaborating crisis as a networking phases. Furthermore, the study has extended our understanding of the facilitator’s role, and it developed the notion of a “socializing” facilitator, who interacts with participants in a network over time and comes to know them well. The facilitator’s role is extended with processes of Managing networks during timeout, highlighting how and when a socializing facilitator has an important role to play in networks.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Udgivelses stedRoskilde
ForlagRoskilde Universitet
Antal sider249
StatusUdgivet - 18 mar. 2016

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