The role of business networks for SMEs: the case of Eco-artisans in Poitou-Charentes

 The role of business networks for SMEs: the case of Eco-artisans in Poitou-Charentes

Jean-Charles Rico

In Management & Avenir 2010/10 (n ° 40) , pages 173 to 185


THE role of networks has been widely studied in B2B marketing for twenty years. The network approach, which has become a research trend in its own right, postulates that no business relationship is really reduced to two actors, but is woven within a universe of multilateral relationships in perpetual evolution (Hakansson and Snehota, 1989). The academic work that founded this current is an extension of Scandinavian research devoted to B2B marketing. As such, they mainly study the field of large businesses, those which bring together complex and large organizations, between which sophisticated interactions develop over the long term (Ford, 1980)


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The key role of the network in this perspective is linked to the very upstream position of these companies in their sector, compared to the situation of their counterparts who sell to individuals. It also stems from the complexity of the organizations involved, the offers delivered and their implementation process at the customer's site. The supplier company most often needs external partners to acquire and maintain its competitive position. For example at the level of its policy of R & D (Research and Development), procurement, prospecting, deployment of offers or associated services.

But what about VSEs (Very Small Enterprises or Medium Enterprises)? Research on networks in the field of B2B marketing has largely ignored them. It is true that their organizational methods and the architecture of their business relationships are much simpler. However, access to networks has been identified as an important key success factor for them (Street and Cameron, 2007). Moreover, it is now accepted that these small and medium-sized organizations operate differently which justifies a specific research approach (Sulé, 2009).

This exploratory research aims to identify the challenges and methods of a network policy for small and medium-sized enterprises, and to validate them on companies in the Picto-Charente eco-construction sector.

Conceptual framework

1.1 - From the supplier-customer relationship to the network

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