An activities-based approach to network management: An explorative study

Kristina Manser, Bas Hillebrand*, R.J.A. Klein Woolthuis, Gerrit Willem Ziggers, Paul H. Driessen, Josée Bloemer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Over the last few decades, the industrial marketing literature and the business network literature have promoted a holistic approach to marketing and provided a framework for understanding interorganizational networks. However, our understanding of how interorganizational networks govern themselves when developing innovations is still limited. Most network management literature does not focus on the activities employed by network actors and/or does not recognize that there may be different modes of network management. This study explores how, why and in which combination network management activities are employed in a network and in doing so proposes a new conceptualization of network management. Using primary and secondary data pertaining to eleven innovation projects, this study reveals how network management consists of combinations of (rather than individual) management activities undertaken to manage a network. This study identifies three distinct modes of network management: basically coordinated, control-oriented and reward-oriented. Moreover, this study proposes that network actors try to match the management mode to their prevailing mental model as well as the type of network (e.g. in terms of project innovativeness).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-199
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Activity-based approach
  • Innovation
  • Network management
  • Taxonomy


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