Turbulence in Business Networks : A Longitudinal Study of Mergers, Acquisitions and Bankruptcies Involving Swedish IT-companies

Abstract: The end of the twentieth centry, and the beginning of the twenty-first, was a revolving period with many mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies among Swedish IT-companies. Such events are likely to affect more than just the companies directly involved, i.e. the bankrupt and consolidating parties, and this thesis considers the contextual embeddedness of mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies by studying them in a business network setting.The primary aim of this thesis is to further the understanding of business network change and its underlying dynamics. A business network is a conceptual description of the interrelatedness of companies, which makes them problematic to describe and understand. This thesis suggests a force-based approach to business network change, which focuses on the forces underlying the change rather than the actual alterations of the business network. The suggested approach emphasizes the change and enables an exploration and description of business network change based on its underlying forces, linked to form a change sequence. The events that occur and the forces they give rise to can be used to describe the character of such business network change sequences.To enable a study of a change sequence within the Swedish IT-related business network, this thesis will use a technique designed to gather information about events and parts of the business network structure by systematizing data from news items describing mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies involving Swedish IT-companies during the years 1994-2003. This data structuration technique enables a longitudinal and retrospective study of a business network change sequence. The analysis indicates a high possibility of inter-linkages between mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies involving Swedish IT-companies, and describes a business network change sequence with high intensity and wide extension, which is the type of business network change with the highest potential impact, here referred to as ‘turbulence in business networks’.