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Conceptualising Business Relationships

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During the past decades business relationships have received much attention in the literature and in practice. Business relationships is a key concept in industrial network studies, but it has also been an important ingredient in a number of other fields of research. In this paper we discuss how relationships are conceptualised in three fields of research; economics, sociology and in studies of technological systems. Based on this we identify properties in these different conceptualisations that have inspired studies of relationships within the industrial network approach. Partly in contrast with these three fields of research, industrial network studies consider the multidimensionality of the concept incorporating economic, technical and social aspects. Furthermore, considering the interactive and embedded character of relationships in industrial networks they have meaning as both means and ends. Thereby, they may not only be used to increase cost efficiency but may also function as an important foundation for value creation.
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