School of Business ranked second in B2B marketing in prestigious international journal’s evaluation

Fruitful co-operation between Finnish universities and excellent university-business collaboration essential
Groups of students sitting in work lounge inside the School of Business / Photo by Aalto University, Mikko Raskinen
Kauppakorkeakoulu. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto-yliopisto.

A bibliometric analysis of the research published in the Industrial Marketing Management (IMM) journal over 1971-2017 shows that Aalto University School of Business, and its predecessor Helsinki School of Economics, ranked second in the most productive and influential institutions publishing in the journal. The University of Manchester came in first while the University of Lancaster placed third.

The IMM journal is by far the leading global publishing institution within industrial and business-to-business marketing. 

Altogether business-to-business (B2B) marketing research in Finland fared extremely well, with the country having the third highest rate of total citations after giants like the USA and the UK. In addition to Aalto, Turku School of Economics, Oulu University, and LUT University were active.

Kuvassa näkyy emeritusprofessori Kristian Möller. Kuva: Kristian Möller.
Emeritusprofessori Kristian Möller. Kuva: Kristian Möller.

As for individual researchers, the contribution from Professor Emeritus Kristian Möller and his colleagues was substantial. They had two papers among the 20 most cited papers and over 25 publications during the period studied, with the majority being from 2000 onwards.  Möller captured 11th place in the top 50 leading authors’ table.  He is also an Honorary Editorial Board member of the IMM.

Ambition, co-operation and frontline research as success factors

‘We focused efforts on understanding the characteristics and building processes of business networks much before networks became the buzz word in strategy,’ Professor Möller says. 

‘Another important feature was recognising the fact that various forms of business networks and supplier-customer collaboration were constructed for different strategic purposes, like supplier network orchestration, creation of technological and business model innovations, and customer service networks.  Moreover, we tried to dig deeply into the management of network construction and orchestration by identifying actionable sets of management capabilities and company roles for these purposes. And we were ambitious, targeting the best academic forums and journals,’ Möller adds.

A significant aspect for the success of Finnish business-to-business researchers was intense collaboration. 

‘We established a nationwide research consortium (ValueNet) among business schools and received funding from the Academy of Finland. There was also fruitful university-business collaboration in several Tekes projects — now a part of Business Finland organization — providing researchers important corporate access. Overall, this collaboration created a critical mass of researchers and research projects which resulted in over new 15 PhD degrees and over 30 academic publications.  So, collaboration was essential in overcoming the inherently small size of the Finnish research community and scarcity of the resources of individual universities. Our success was critical also in developing increasing international research networks,’ Möller sums up. 

Key results: Markets and industries need to be reframed into networks and ecosystems

 Although the long time period and the large amount of research makes it difficult to define the main results, Möller emphasizes the role of networks.

‘In early 2000s networks were largely regarded as a generic form of organizing, but we showed that strategic networks were used for widely different purposes from demand driven supply systems, for example in the electronics and automotive industries, value-added customer service networks like the S-group system or Amazon, customer solution networks like orchestrating the construction of industrial plants, cruise ships, or complex software systems, to innovation networks targeting such radical innovations like mobile service systems and new technologies, for example, various forms of nanotechnology. Our findings indicated that the value-creation systems underlying these different types of strategic networks varied systematically and we were able to suggest what kind of managerial capabilities and organizational forms best served their construction and orchestration.’

‘These findings are largely valid also for operating and trying to orchestrate ecosystems, which are by and large constructed through interwoven networks. It appears that the social, technological and economic environment is getting increasingly complex, and our latest efforts aim at offering conceptual frameworks and tools for making sense of complex business environments. Firms and public authorities can navigate only through foresight in the current landscape,’ Möller says.


More information:

Professor emeritus Kristian Möller
Aalto University School of Business, Department of Marketing
[email protected]
+358 50 383 6190

Research publication information:

Francisco J. Martínez-Lópeza, José M. Merigóc, Juan Carlos Gázquez-Abade and José Luis Ruiz-Reale. Industrial marketing management: Bibliometric overview since its foundation. Industrial Marketing Management (24), 2020, 19-38.

Key publications by Möller and co-authors:

Möller, K., & Rajala, A. (2007). Rise of strategic nets - New modes of value creation. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(7), 895-908. Möller, K., & Rajala, A. (2007). Rise of strategic nets - New modes of value creation. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(7), 895-908.

Möller, K. (2010). Sense-making and agenda construction in emerging business networks—How to direct radical innovation. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(3), 361-371.

Möller, K., & Halinen, A. (2017). Managing business and innovation networks—From strategic nets to business fields and ecosystems. Industrial Marketing Management, 67, 5-22.

Möller, K., Nenonen, S., & Storbacka, K. (2020). Networks, ecosystems, fields, market systems? Making sense of the business environment. Industrial Marketing Management, 90, 380-399.


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