Building networks for growth and for conquering new markets. A mantra for best management practices in the modern enterprise, which, indicative recommendation aside, conceals a cultural shift that goes beyond the guideline and evolves in the wake of evolving production and consumer systems. Understanding how that evolution has proceeded is crucial so it may be useful to read “The Emerging Wave of Agile Business Networks in Italy: a New Strategy for Facing Global Competition”, just published by Silvia Cantele, Silvia Vernizzi and Francesca Ricciardi of Verona University’s Department of Business Administration.
The study was triggered by the realization that a new way of building business networks among companies is developing in Italy, and is based on a juridical format known as a “network agreement”. Over and above the legal aspects of the agreement, the paper explores the “real reasons” for the success or failure of various endeavours. The research then identifies the best conditions for exploiting the network contract so partner companies are better equipped to deal with the new global competitive scenario. The goal is not to understand how effective the agreement may be but what its limitations are, to ensure it will work when applied in a given context.
So what does this agreement have to say? For Vernizzi, Ricciardi and Cantele there are a number of conditions but they’re based on a number on fundamental points: a shared belief that a new way of “doing business” is needed; mutual trust among companies; the commitment and personality of the entrepreneurs involved; the balance of cooperation and competition in the relationships within the network; perception that the success of the network is a shared result. So if we want to list some key words, they are: belief, trust, commitment, balance, cooperation, sharing. Terms behind which we find operational concepts that are easy to implement and maintain. On the other hand, it is precisely this condition that reveals how difficult it is to achieve an effective implementation of the business network and the scope of the cultural change required.
The three researchers then propose a new business concept, which must be agile if it is to be successful within the context of network agreements. Which is tantamount to saying that corporate culture must tend spontaneously to cooperation and collaboration. Situations not that easy to develop but, as we said, it can be done.
Silvia Cantele, Silvia Vernizzi, Francesca Ricciardi
World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 12, Issue 2–3