Business recipes, historical narratives and the discovery of networks

Gadde, Lars-Erik and Araujo, L M (2007) Business recipes, historical narratives and the discovery of networks. The IMP Journal, 1 (3). pp. 2-25. ISSN 0809-7259

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Both research and practice in recent decades have emphasised the benefits associated with various types of network structures. Most of these advocates seem to assume that networks are a novel phenomenon that can be explained as a response to problems inherent in the large, integrated business enterprise. This perception is representative of a general view of industry dynamics as a succession of waves of organising, dictated by selection patterns, in which more efficient forms displace outdated ones. Our point of departure is that networks did not spring out of nowhere in the 1980s. They have always been there, but were more or less 'hidden' since prevailing frameworks for the analysis of the business landscape were aligned with business recipes emphasising the characteristics and benefits of single companies, markets and hierarchies. The paper focuses on the mutual influence between business recipes and historical narratives of industrial development. We argue that dominant business recipes at a particular point in time are formed by interpretations of successful patterns of behaviour prevailing for current conditions. Business recipes tend to build their own momentum and continue to be exploited long after the conditions that gave rise to their emergence have disappeared. Eventually, new narratives emerge to explain epochal transformations, expose fissures in old recipes and inspire new patterns of business behaviour.

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Journal Article
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The IMP Journal
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10 Apr 2012 12:10
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 22:10