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Interfirm Networks and Innovation. Special Issue of Industrial Marketing Management

Deadline for submission: March 31st 2019

Industrial Marketing Management announces the call for papers for a special issue on “Interfirm Networks and Innovation”.

Overview and Purpose of the special issue

In today’s dynamic, complex and interconnected environments, business networks in its various forms (e.g. franchising, retail and service chains, cooperatives, financial networks, joint ventures, strategic alliances, licensing, clusters, public-private partnerships) are becoming increasingly important in helping firms improve their competitive position through an enhanced access to innovation, knowledge, complementary resources and capabilities otherwise not available to them (Koch and Windsperger, 2017). In addition, driven by increased performance pressures in unpredictable environments, firms embedded in networks are increasingly moving from co-operators to collaborators and value co-creators in innovative ways (Lusch, Vargo, & Gustafsson, 2016). This special issue aims to address the need for a broader understanding of how does innovation and creativity augment the (re) structuring and functioning of these interfirm networks while they strive for a sustained performance under the premise of a complex, dynamic, knowledge-intensive, digital and sharing economy.

Today firms are vigorously transforming their strategies with the aim of actively shaping and changing their highly uncertain market environments. These effectuation processes (Sarasvathy, 2001), where firms are (creatively) reconfiguring their value chains and actively disrupting existing business models for innovation and sustained competitive advantage, influence business network structures and create new network forms, such as the network-centric organization, which identifies the interorganizational network as the primary source of value creation (Aarikka-Stenroos and Rittala, 2017; Forkmann, Henneberg, & Mitrega, 2018; Pagani and Pardo, 2017). The development of organizational capabilities, such as network capabilities, to create value leads to an improved performance (Kohtamäki, Partanen, Parida and Wincent, 2013). In addition to new network forms, firms are creating new markets for their innovations, formed through alliances and collaborative strategies, as a mode of reducing or eliminating uncertainty or entry barriers. In that context, the globalized digital economy is reinforcing this network effect, by increasingly shaping interconnected and borderless markets and business, where the need for adaptive and innovative business models as well as new and flexible network forms is becoming more important than ever.

The potential for innovation has been increased since digital capabilities of products and services enable firms to combine resources in unique ways across the traditional industry boundaries. Supported by technological advancements, big data availability, social media and other digital platforms, companies though could benefit from increased market opportunities but do as well have to face surmounting market uncertainties. This environment requires companies to have fast, efficient, innovative and very well-integrated (collaborative) routines and processes, providing a platform of flexibility to respond to market changes swiftly, accurately and above all profitably. Digital technologies offer broad opportunities for re-organizing the interaction among firms especially when they seek a continuous creative (re) configuration of their collaboration in order to acquire the much needed flexibility and quick reaction and response capacities to better adapt to business challenges stemming from uncertainty.

This special issue calls for papers that would help us better understand the interrelationship between business networks and innovation & creativity. We welcome theoretical, conceptual, empirical and case study papers from all areas in economics and management of networks (franchising, retail and service chains, cooperatives, financial networks, joint ventures, strategic alliances, licensing, clusters, public-private partnerships and new network forms in digital economy), that develop and apply different theoretical perspectives and shed new empirical insights on the interrelationship and/or reciprocal interaction between business networks and innovation & creativity. More precisely, 1) how collaborations drives innovations? 2) How does the innovative/creative (re) configuration of collaborative structural arrangements leads to the emergence of new organizational forms, for enhanced sustainability?

Appropriate topics for the special issue may include, but are not limited to the following:

Technological innovation and network forms

Technological innovations have an incremental or disruptive nature, where incremental innovations include small improvements to existing products, services, processes, whereas disruptive innovations (specifically through digital technologies) destruct existing value chains and business models. What are the effects of disruptive technological innovations on interfirm networks? Does technological innovation create new network forms? What kind of interfirm networks are being created in new digital environments?

Business networks and the creation of innovation

Network relationships are moving from cooperation to collaboration and value co-creation entities. Therefore, the locus of value creation and the organizational form is shifting from individual firms towards interfirm networks, which encompass a firm’s relationships to suppliers, customers, competitors, or other stakeholders across boundaries of industries or countries. In that context firms are becoming co-creators of innovation in the network. How do inter-organisational network structures influence the creation of innovation? What kind of strategies, capabilities, business models are necessary in interfirm networks for the generation of innovation? How do firms in the networks maintain the creation of innovation? What kind of new network forms are generating innovation?

Theoretical perspectives on interfirm networks and innovation

New theoretical perspectives will enhance our understanding of the interrelationship between networks and innovation. Which insights can be provided from the different fields, such as organization theory, strategic management perspectives (resource-based theory, organizational capability theory, knowledge-based theory, real option theory, stakeholder theory), evolutionary theory and organizational economics (transaction cost theory, principal-agent theory, property rights theory), and industrial marketing management perspectives (Industrial Network Approach, markets-as-networks approach, service-dominant logic perspective)?

We will give preference to empirical papers—both qualitative and quantitative—although theoretical papers that examine fundamental issues in, or offer comprehensive frameworks of, ‘interfirm networks and innovation’ also are welcomed. As Industrial Marketing Management is widely read by an academic and business audience, all submissions should include implications for practitioners.

Preparation and submission of paper and review process

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Submissions should be about 6,000-8,000 words in length. Copies should be uploaded on Industrial Marketing Management’s homepage through the EVISE system. You need to upload your paper using the dropdown box for the special issue on “Interfirm Networks and Innovation”. For guidelines, visit http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/505720/auth.... Papers not complying with the notes for contributors (cf. homepage) or poorly written will be desk rejected. Suitable papers will be subjected to a double-blind review; hence, authors must not identify themselves in the body of their paper. (Please do not submit a Word file with “track changes” active or a PDF file.)

Please address all questions to the guest editors:

Gerard Cliquet ([email protected]), Université de Rennes, France

George Hendrikse ([email protected]), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Marijana Sreckovic ([email protected]), TU Wien, Austria

Josef Windsperger ([email protected]), University of Vienna, Austria

Muhammad Zafar Yaqub, ([email protected]), Department of Business Administration, King Abulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Aarikka-Stenroos, L., & Rittala P. (2017). Network management in the era of ecosystems: Systematic review and management framework. Industrial Marketing Management, 67, 23 – 36.

Forkmann, S., Henneberg, S.C., & Mitrega, M. (2018). Capabilities in business relationships and networks: Research recommendations and directions. Industrial Marketing Management (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indermarman.2018.07.07).

Koch, T., & Windsperger, J. (2017). Seeing through the network: Competitive advantage in the digital economy. Journal of Organization Design, 6(1), 6 (doi:10.1186/s41469-017-0016-z).

Kohtamäki , M., Partanen , J., Parida , V., & Wincent , J. 2013 . Non-linear relationship between industrial service offering and sales growth: The moderating role of network capabilities. Industrial Marketing Management, 42 (8), 1374 - 1385.

Lusch, R. F., Vargo, S.I, & Gustafsson, A. (2016). Fostering a trans-disciplinary perspective of service ecosystems. Journal of Business Research, 69(8), 2957-2963.

Pagani, M., & Pardo, C. (2017). The impact of digital technology on relationships in a business network. Industrial Marketing Management, 67, 185 – 192.

Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. The Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 243-263.

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