University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Journal publication date2019
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


By challenging conventional views of the way in which business markets function, with a shift away from a transactional focus to a relationship and network focus, the IMP industrial networks approach also implicitly challenged conventional views of industrial policy. The bulk of research within this tradition has investigated the implications of this paradigm shift for industrial marketing and purchasing, with a much smaller body of research addressing the policy implications. Nevertheless, the assertion that business activity can be better conceptualised using a networks perspective rather than a neo-classical atomistic markets perspective has manifest implications for industrial policy formulation. These implications are addressed in this paper, using the UK vegetable production sector as an empirical context. Evidence is provided that the strongly market-based approach implemented by successive UK governments has fallen short in a number of respects, notably by failing to achieve desired targets for domestic production and by not providing sufficient incentives for sustainable production. Qualitative interviews with key informants in the sector suggest that these failings can be traced to the treatment of what are, in reality, managed industrial networks with major supermarket chains at their head, as though they were atomistic markets. It is proposed that reformulating policy using industrial networks theory to take account of the reality of the economic conditions found in this sector would yield better policy outcomes.

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ID: 16188251