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How do Small Firms Manage their Political Environment?: - A Network Perspective
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

To this point research on firms’ political behavior has contributed knowledge concerning large firms’ relationships and strategies with political actors and their surrounding environment. Less is known about small firms’ behavior towards political organizations. As a matter of fact, the fields of international marketing, international business and corporate political science have left the political behavior of small firms almost untouched. Therefore, extant literature assumes that small firms due to their resource constraints are passive receivers of political initiatives.

About 99 percent of all firms within the European Union are small firms, and it is therefore questioned whether all these firms are passive receivers of political initiatives. The intention with this thesis is to challenge some assumptions regarding how small firms manage their relationships with political actors concerning EU related rules and regulations. Consequently, the study raises the overarching research question; how do small firms manage their political environment?

Theoretically, the study takes a network perspective on business political interaction to examine both individual and/or collective political behavior of small firms. It develops a theoretical view constituted of knowledge, commitment and legitimacy. Methodologically, two sequential stages are followed: first an in-depth qualitative case study of three successful cases is presented and second, the in-depth understanding is broadened to a wider population of firms based on a quantitative survey.

A central contribution of this thesis is to aid research on the political behavior of small firms. It is found that small firms, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, do possess political resources. They are not passive receivers of political initiatives. Instead, the findings show that small firms are active and can exercise influence. This, however, is shown to be dependent on the firm’s political commitment, political knowledge and competency and business-political legitimacy. It is also shown that small firms mobilize these critical resources not only directly, but also indirectly through various intermediating actors. Besides the theoretical contributions, these conclusions are important not just because of the managerial implications but also, and perhaps more importantly, for the policy implications that can be drawn from the study. Being exploratory and opening up the black box of small firm’s political behavior, the thesis ends with a number of future research directions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Business Studies , 2011. , 92 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 150
Keyword [en]
Small firms, political actors, intermediating actors, coercive and supportive initiatives, political behavior, political knowledge, politial commitment
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151942OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-151942DiVA: diva2:411860
Public defence
2011-05-18, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-04-27 Created: 2011-04-19 Last updated: 2011-04-27Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Small firms' interaction with political organizations in the European Union
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Small firms' interaction with political organizations in the European Union
2009 (English)In: Industrial Marketing Management, ISSN 0019-8501, E-ISSN 1873-2062, Vol. 38, no 6, 687-697 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

About 99% of all firms in the European Union are small, and politicians are increaslingly emphasizing their importance for job creation, technological development and prosperity. Consequently, the political focus is on these firms and a large number of decisions influencing their business activities are constantly taken by political actors at various levels. The aim of this article is to investigate small firms´interaction with political organizations in the EU. Previous studies have shown that these firms have been obliged to follow the coercive political decisions of the EU´s political units. In this paper, however, we identify some changes which demonstrate political support and influence by small firms. Based on case study approach as well as data from a Swedish survey, four propositions concerning small firms´interaction patterns within the political context of the EU will be highlighted and further discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2009
Keyword
Small firms, European Union, Political, Interaction, Knowledge, Influence, Intermediaries, Coercice, Supportive
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-119537 (URN)10.1016/j.indmarman.2009.05.014 (DOI)000269966900015 ()
Projects
Small Firms and Political Actors within the European Union - An Interactive Approach
Available from: 2010-02-26 Created: 2010-02-26 Last updated: 2011-03-07Bibliographically approved
2.
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3. The Political Commitments of Small Firms in response to Supportive and Coercive initiatives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Political Commitments of Small Firms in response to Supportive and Coercive initiatives
2010 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

By challenging the view that small firms due to their resource scarcity, have a rather passive and adaptive behavior towards political initiatives, this paper studies how small firms respond to such initiatives to manage their political environment. The purpose of this paper is to study how small firms can avoid or reduce coercive political initiatives and gain support for their businesses. The theoretical foundation is based on a business network view consisting of business and non-business actors. The view developed emphasizes the direct and indirect political commitment of business firms to manage political relationships. While direct commitment connotes to business-political relationships, the indirect enlightens firms collective political behavior through intermediaries conceptualized as triadic relationships. Using survey data from 134 small firms, the findings show that contrary to previous research, small firms do make direct political commitments. More specifically it is revealed that small firms combine different types of political commitments depending on the political issue.

Keyword
small firms, non-business actors, political commitment, supportive and coercive initiatives, triadic relationships
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151939 (URN)
Available from: 2011-04-19 Created: 2011-04-19 Last updated: 2012-08-20Bibliographically approved
4. Political Strategies of Small Firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Political Strategies of Small Firms
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates how small firms develop political strategies in response to coercive political initiatives emanating from political organizations. Extant literature has mainly focused on large firms and has assumed that small firms are passive adopters of coercive political initiatives. This paper is based on business network theory, where business-government relationships have been studied in relation to small firms and influenced by corporate political strategy. A framework of firm’s prerequisites built around three concepts: political commitments, political knowledge, and business-political legitimacy have been developed. This analytical framework is used to explain how small firms take strategic political actions to change coercive initiatives into support for their businesses, which is illustrated empirically with a case study. Instead of passive adaptive behavior, the paper shows how small firms can influence coercive political initiatives and what kinds of decisions are made to actualize the proposed political strategy.

Keyword
Small firms, political strategy, network, political knowledge, political commitments and business-political legitimacy
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151941 (URN)
Available from: 2011-04-19 Created: 2011-04-19 Last updated: 2011-04-19

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