From channel management towards network coordination - changing perspectives on distribution arrangements
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2020


The purpose of this paper is to examine the transformation of the perspective applied to distribution structures in the late 1900s. This change implied that the previous focus on channel management by a channel captain was abandoned because of changes in the business reality. This perspective was replaced by models and concepts featuring collaboration and joint coordination between actors and relationships embedded in networks.


Changes of perspectives on phenomena are assumed to occur through the dynamic interplay between business reality, the conceptualisation of this reality and the managerial recommendations derived from this conceptualisation. The study is based on a thorough longitudinal literature review.


Shifts of perspectives occur when there is an increasing mismatch between the current business reality and mainstream conceptualisations. In this transformation, new constructs are required to illustrate new aspects of the business reality, exemplified in the study by interaction and networks. Some established concepts lose their significance, illustrated by the channel captain. Others may be re-interpreted, as is the case with the power concept. The study also shows that "forgotten" conceptualisations can be re-wakened, exemplified by the view of distribution structures as network constellations. In turn, these changes in the conceptualisation of distribution impact the managerial recommendations.


To the best of the author's knowledge, there are no previous studies analysing how the perspective on a certain phenomenon changes through the dynamic interplay between business reality, conceptualisations and managerial recommendations.

Distribution networks

Joint coordination

Perspective shifts

Marketing channels

Distribution dynamics


Lars-Erik Gadde

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Supply and Operations Management

Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing

0885-8624 (ISSN)

Vol. 36 13 14-25







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