Networks, ecosystems, fields, market systems? Making sense of the business environment

Kristian Möller*, Suvi Nenonen, Kaj Storbacka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This positioning paper is informed by our judgment that the mainstream research on business marketing and marketing in general is losing its relevance and vigor because it views business environments as narrow “markets” and focuses primarily on dyadic business relationships and their management. Sticking to this limited, economics-driven market view has detached the discipline from major real-world phenomena, leaving it with scant understanding of the contemporary environmental context of marketing and business strategy. Based on a focused reading of literature on business fields, business networks, business ecosystems, and market systems, we venture our own comprehensive theoretical framing of complex business environments summarized in two frameworks. In the pursuit of relevance our integration is avowedly simplifying as we strive for parsimony. Key points explicate the nested, multi-layered, multimodal, transitional and conditioned character of the business environment, and the dynamics, phases and processes of the evolution of that nested environment. We use the frameworks constructed, which form an initial theory of complex business environments, to supply a research agenda for business marketing and offer brief managerial conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-399
Number of pages20
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Business ecosystems
  • Business environment
  • Business fields
  • Business networks
  • Business strategy
  • Market systems

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