From "taking" network pictures to "making" network pictures: A new metaphorical manifesto for industrial marketing research



Publication Details

Purchase, S., Lowe, S. & Ellis, N. 2010, 'From "taking" network pictures to "making" network pictures: A new metaphorical manifesto for industrial marketing research', Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 595-615.


Purpose - An earlier researcher, Wood, proposed that cinema is the most appropriate metaphor for interpretation of contemporary life and organizations. The paper adopts the enthusiasm for the cinema metaphor and explores the implications for industrial marketing and business networks, with particular reference to the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Group research.

Design/methodology/approach - The paper outlines the Cartesian picture theory of the early Wittgenstein, the comparable "pictures agenda" within the IMP, then the post-Cartesian "language gaming" approach adopted by the later Wittgenstein, and associates it with an agenda to introduce a more "cinematographic" approach, introducing issues within the "linguistic turn" to the study of business networks.

Findings - The transformation of the contemporary "post-Cartesian" culture from "written" to "visual" was not fully appreciated until the invention and mass appeal of cinema and the concomitants of a visual culture became more apparent. In the notion of the "spectacle", Debord was amongst the first to show that the postmodern visual culture was one where social relations are dominated by commodified images. The images that prevail, from this critical viewpoint, are "social opiates" masquerading as progress that control actors through addictive consumption and acquisition by spectator consumers. In this context, business to business relationships are about how these image-based addictions are maintained within business cultures.

Research limitations/implications - The adoption of a cinematographic metaphor would appear to be a pertinent development for understanding of business network relationships.

Originality/value - The advantage of a cinematographic metaphor over other, less visual, metaphors is that cinema is more visually sophisticated and entirely embedded in cultures dominated by commodified images. It is appropriate, therefore, that visual literacy, realities as increasingly "image-dominated" and "virtual" business networks are better understood through the lens of a cinematographic metaphor.

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