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Call for Papers

Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing


Special Issue: Networks as Learning Organisations

The deadline for submission is January 30th, 2009


Topic of the Special Issue

The Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing announces a Call for Papers for a Special Issue on Networks as Learning Organisations.  It has been stated that in the new economic logic of value creation only two assets are thought to matter: knowledge and relationships (Ford and Hakansson, 2006).  These concepts are clearly not mutually exclusive.  Companies engage in value creation activities not only through making their offerings more intelligent but by making their customers and suppliers more intelligent as well (Thirkell, 1997).  Put differently, the most effective networks will also be the most intelligent in creating value through their underlying systems and activities (Möller and Rajala, 2007).  New initiatives, such as CRM 2.0, seek to understand the influence of such "intelligent" customers and suppliers on organisational learning.  The useful knowledge created in such networks might be via formal processes or through informal situations and fortunate circumstance.  In whatever form and manner knowledge is created, if it is transient in nature then this represents a lost learning opportunity.  This, then, raises a rather obvious but relatively under-examined question: how do networks create, learn from, and retain 'useful' knowledge? (Johnston et al. 2006).


Evidence points to companies such as Toyota and Honda who have increased their consumer products market share in North America partly as a result of their approach to supplier relations.  These organizations strive to understand their suppliers' operations and cultures in order to better support and develop their capabilities as well as learn themselves (Liker and Choi, 2004).  Similarly, 3M describes itself in terms of a "culture of innovation" reflected in its emphasis on human creativity and learning capabilities (Hatch, 2000).  In contrast, the perceived technology development bias at Philips Consumer Electronics led to it being complacent and lethargic at the expense of other learning opportunities in its network in areas such as product design and marketing.  In sum, organisations and networks that emphasise continuous learning and improvement opportunities stand to generate useful knowledge in the areas of improved production processes, new market opportunities, competitor threats, scarce sources of supply and innovation among many other key competitive drivers.


Activities in business networks related to the development of inter-firm relationships and the coordination of activities among network members raises questions regarding network partner choice, learning capabilities, and realizable and desirable performance outcomes.  This is reflected in the concerns of Hunt and Lambe (2000: 14), who ask "...under what circumstances will firms developing relationships with such entities as suppliers, competitors, employees and customers be likely to lead to enhanced [financial] performance?"  We propose that the answers to such questions may be found, at least in part, in: (1) the nature and purpose of the interactions which take place between network partners and (2) the collective learning capabilities which may result from such interactions.  These views raise questions about networks and the manner in which they learn:


i.                     How do networks learn and how do they learn to learn?

ii.                   What aspects of collaborative activity enhance learning in networks?

iii.                  What activities stimulate incremental knowledge and learning?

iv.                 How might different levels of network analysis (individual, group, firm, and industry) aid our understanding of the learning process?

v.                   What are the social processes of knowledge production?

vi.                 How and when does learning in networks lead to innovation?

vii.                To what extent would the level of knowledge codification in a network and the ability to access and share knowledge between network partners affect the learning capabilities and outcomes in networks?

viii.              How do firms learn from the capabilities of network partners?

ix.                 How might new initiatives, such as CRM 2.0, redefine organisational learning in business to consumer markets?


The special issue would welcome all papers that address all aspects of research into networks as learning organisations and network dynamics applied to business and industrial markets.  As the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing is widely read by an academic and business audience, all submissions should include implications for practitioners.  


Process for the submission of papers:

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication.  Submissions should be approximately 6,000 words in length.  Copies should be submitted via email Word attachment (in one file including all figures and tables) to both special issue editors.  The first page must contain the title, author/s, and contact information for the author(s).  For additional guidelines including the requirement for a structured abstract, please see the "Notes for Contributors" from a recent issue of the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, or see the home page at .  Suitable articles will be subjected to a double-blind review; hence authors should not identify themselves in the body of the paper.


Please address questions to the special issue editors:


Dr Linda D. Peters [log in to unmask]   +44 (0)1603-593331

Dr Andrew D. Pressey [log in to unmask] +44 (0)1603-591181


Norwich Business School

University of East Anglia



United Kingdom







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