Strategic thinking and the IMP approach : A comparative analysis
It is a characteristic of the IMP approach in studying business markets that the emphasis is placed upon rich description and efforts to understand the underlying processes behind interaction between organizations in networks, rather than on the formulation of managerial checklists and decision rules. For this reason, while IMP scholars have made some interesting and profound contributions to the explicit literature on management strategy, the overall contribution of the IMP approach to the strategy literature has been fairly slim. The purpose of this paper is to compare the IMP approach with five important schools of thought in strategy, with the aims of establishing what areas of agreement and disagreement exist and identifying whether the IMP approach can yield unique insights into strategy, strategizing, and the strategy process. We compare and contrast the IMP approach with, in turn, the rational planning approach to strategy associated with Ansoff, the positioning approach associated with Porter, the resource-based view associated with Barney, the deliberate/emergent approach associated with Mintzberg, and the strategay-as-practice approach associated with Whittington. As we move through these five schools of thought - which are addressed in a roughly chronological order - we discern an increasing degree of alignment with the assumptions and methods of IMP scholars. The outcome from our analysis is a suggested research agenda designed to bring the concepts and methods of industrial network research to bear upon strategy, strategizing, and the strategy process.