A NICE agenda for IMP research
The IMP (Industrial Marketing and Purchasing) Group has engaged in a number of interesting developments in the past few years. Particularly adventurous have been the agendas of ‘pictures’ and sense-making and of time. In this paper we argue that borrowing and combining contemporary foci within social science on narratives, identity, culture and epoché temporality (for which we use the acronym N.I.C.E) allows the construction of an approach that can integrate these IMP agendas into a new research direction for the group that will keep it at the leading edge of marketing research. The purpose of our paper is to introduce and integrate discursive and temporal elements into the understanding and research of business networks to develop a more dynamic and hermeneutic approach. Our purpose is to provide a contribution to the field in exploring how identities are formed within business networks through narrative episodes in interconnecting relationships over time. We bring together all of the elements of a NICE agenda in an attempt to provide an integrative, ‘multi-lens’ theory of business networks focussed within the IMP research tradition. In doing so, we construct meaning as itself networked; sense-making involves relating presently narrated episodes to symbolic and material aspects of other narrative network episodes and events through emplotment and storying.