Strategic networks: On the intertwinedness of network structure and resources

Jesse Karjalainen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Strategy scholars have a long history of attributing firm performance differentials to the internal characteristics of the firm. In contrast, strategic network scholars typically posit that superior firm performance is linked to the firm's external network of interfirm ties. While both of these perspectives have been instrumental in improving our understanding of the sources of firm performance variance, the research on strategic management has sought to integrate these two streams for a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding. However, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the interplay between networks and resources. Towards this end, the objective of this dissertation is to contribute to an improved understanding of how the resources of a strategic network affect the performance of the focal firm. This objective is addressed through five independent analyses, each of which is presented in a separate research paper. The first paper empirically examines and the second paper theoretically elaborates how the structure and the resources of a strategic network interact to affect the performance of the focal firm. By focusing on knowledge resources, the first paper finds that the resource levels at each network node and, more broadly, the resultant distributions of resources in the network matter for the focal firm performance. The second paper theoretically extends these notions and proposes a concept of network resource distribution, which enables the operationalization and subsequent quantitative testing of the firm performance implications of such distributions. The third paper empirically analyzes how the resources in a strategic network interact with one another to affect the performance of the focal firm. It finds a significant interaction between knowledge resources, suggesting that interactions among resources in a network, in general, can have significant firm performance implications. The fourth paper and the fifth paper empirically investigate how the resources endowed by individuals in strategic networks affect the performance of the focal firm. By focusing on the manufacturing industry, the fourth paper finds the resources furnished by individuals yield multiple benefits, including fresher ideas, broader design support, and quicker delivery times, that are beyond those provided by firm resources. By focusing on the co-creation of consumer apparel designs in social media, the fifth paper finds that to better ensure that their designs are aligned with market needs, firms utilize design resources contributed by individuals. Taken together, these results show that the structure and the resources of a strategic network are intertwined in complex ways. By using various perspectives to examine firm performance implications of resources in strategic networks, this dissertation contributes to the literature on interfirm alliances and networks by theoretically extending and empirically testing its key concepts.
Translated title of the contributionStrategiset yritysverkostot: Verkoston rakenteen ja resurssien yhteen nivoutuneisuudesta
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Kauranen, Ilkka, Supervising Professor
  • Poesche, Jürgen, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-3811-7
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-3812-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • strategic management
  • strategic networks
  • strategic alliances
  • resource-based view
  • firm performance


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