University of Oulu

Four concepts of network : from connectedness to object-oriented collaboration

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Author: Toikka, Kari; Miettinen, Reijo1; Tuunainen, Juha2
Organizations: 1University of Helsinki, Finland
2University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association of Business Schools Finland, 2016
Publish Date: 2019-04-10


The proliferation of network research has confused the meaning of the concept of network. To enhance conceptual clarity, this paper distinguishes between four concepts of network: economic, social, socio-economic, and objectual. Each of these has a different understanding of the fundamental character of networks. They also differ in relation to methodological choices, understanding of the historicity of networks as well as trust and sociality within networks. Each of the concepts also regards different things as essential: in the economic concept, this is oscillation between market and hierarchy; in social, embeddedness of economic activity in non-economic sociality; in socio-economic, sociality and trust within economic activity; and in objectual, joint creation of use values by network partners. The article argues that the objectual concept of network is stronger than the others to make sense of the contents of network exchange, motives of the participants and foundations of trust in network collaboration.

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Series: Nordic journal of business
ISSN: 2342-9003
ISSN-E: 2342-9011
ISSN-L: 2342-9003
Volume: 65
Issue: 2
Pages: 4 - 23
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
5141 Sociology
516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © The Authors & Association of Business Schools Finland, 2016.