In recent years, there has been increasing interest among business-to-business marketing scholars in the processes of managerial cognition. In particular, actors' network pictures, defined as the cognitive representations of managers' business surroundings have attracted much attention. However, there has so far been no empirical research on the impact that network pictures have on managerial behavior. The purpose of this paper is therefore to understand if and how specific pertinent network picture characteristics — namely power, dynamics, broadness, and indirectness — are associated with different behavioral choices, i.e. networking strategies. Based on an experiment with 445 Executive MBA students, all international managers across different industries, we find that managers' choices when managing business relationships, their strategic actions, are affected by the way they perceive their surrounding business network. However, amongst the different theoretical models of networking activities tested, only the power dimension showed significant associations with all four network picture characteristics. This study represents the first to empirically study the connection between cognition and behavior in business-to-business markets, as well as one of the few to apply an experimental design to study a business-to-business marketing related phenomenon. Also, it paves the way for future understanding of the association between network picture characteristics and networking strategies in interaction between actors.
- Business-to-business networks Network pictures Networking Sense-making Experiments