Milena Ratajczak-Mrozek, PhD, Poznań University of Economics, Department of Internatonal Marketng, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The specifcity of the operaton profle of high-tech companies, including the necessity of operatng at the internatonal scale may account for the fact that these companies may fnd in network relatonships, business networks and cooperaton an essental determinant for growth and compettveness. Foreign enttes should be especially interestng business partners for hightech companies, as they are ofen seen as representng more advanced knowledge, resources and experience. The aim of the artcle is to point out to global business networks (i.e. including both local and foreign enttes), and especially to cooperaton within supply chain, as an important basis for a growth strategy of a high-tech company.

The artcle adopts assumptons of the network approach as a concept of companies cooperaton. An analysis of the author’s own as well as secondary empirical research, with the focus on hightech companies located in Poland is presented. In partcular, the data from own research of 62 high-tech companies in Poland conducted in the frst half of 2011 is analysed. It shows that the high-tech companies placing great importance on cooperaton within supply chain demonstrate a higher growth and level of compettveness than the companies which do not ascribe such importance (bearing in mind that supply chain forms an important part of a business network).

Keywords: high-tech companies, high-technology companies, industrial network, business network, network approach, cooperaton, supply chain management, compettveness, company performance, growth strategy


Due to globalisaton of competton and fast rate of changes occurring in micro- and macro environment, high-tech companies may not reach satsfactory benefts if they shut out cooperaton and limit their strategies to internal development of technology. Moreover, a queston arises whether in the face of growing interrelatons between enttes, internatonalisaton of operaton and the rate of technology development, such shutng out of high-tech companies is possible at all?

More and more ofen the necessity of cooperaton and developing partnerships (relatonships) with external enttes, which can signifcantly influence a company’s success, is emphasized in research (see Wilson and Mummalaneni, 1986, p. 44-58; Fonfara, 2009, p. 3). In network relatonships, global business networks and cooperaton companies may fnd an essental determinant of growth and compettveness. Of all the groups of enttes with which companies may cooperate, the biggest atenton is paid to those consttutng links in supply chain (see Gadde and Snechota 2000, p. 305- 316; Hollensen, 2003, p. 197-254; Golicic 2007, p. 719-739; Barry, Dion and Johnson 2008, p. 114-135). And precisely this strategy, i.e. concentraton on global business networks, and especially cooperaton within supply chain, may bring satsfying results to high-tech companies and ensure their growth and compettveness.

The aim of the artcle is to point out to global business networks, and especially to cooperaton within supply chain, as an important basis for a growth strategy of a high-tech company. In order to atain this goal, the artcle presents an analysis of the author’s own as well as secondary empirical research, with the focus on high-tech companies located in Poland.

Global business networks and supply chains – theoretcal background

The network approach is a concept of cooperaton of companies which was conceived in late 1970s. This concept stresses the signifcance of all the contacts (network relatonships) a company has with the enttes in its surrounding environment. Breakthrough outlooks in this feld were presented by the scientsts connected with Industrial Marketng and Purchasing Group (IMP Group) (htp:// A network relatonship is a general phenomenon that persists over a longer tme and is developed through interactons between enttes (Easton, 1992, p. 4). All the company’s relatonships consttute an extended network – a business network (an industrial network).

The literature of the subject points to two theoretcal trends relatng to the emergence of business networks – the network approach consistent with the main IMP Group research stream and the concept of strategic business network.

According to the network approach consistent with the main IMP Group research stream, a business network is consttuted by a collecton of long-term formal and informal relatonships (direct and indirect) which exist between two or more enttes (Håkansson and Snehota, 1989). Within the considered framework, a system of relatonships is ofen characterised as being decentralized and informal. The business network is an effect of historical cooperaton, whilst through cooperatng and a series of interactons, enttes adjust to each other, create cooperaton norms and build trust. Usually none of the enttes plays a dominant role (Turnbull, Ford and Cunningham, 1996, p. 44-62; Ford, Håkansson and Johanson, 1986, p. 26-41).

Companies, increasingly frequently, consciously, and in a strategic manner, create business networks concentrated around them. These types of relatonships illustrate the strategic approach to the development of network relatonships. The strategic approach (D'Cruz and Rugman, 1993; Jarillo, 1995) stresses actve and conscious development of a network of relatonships and the presence of one main entty (flagship frm) intentonally building a strategic network. The main characteristc of relatonships between the partners of a network is the asymmetric and strategic control exercised by one flagship company over the remaining (independent or “slightly” dependent) companies. The focal company specialises in areas of the value chain in which it is most competent. The remaining necessary resources are sourced from other enttes via subcontractng or outsourcing. The flagship frm only has strategic control over those aspects of its partners’ business systems which are dedicated to the network. Over tme, the partcipants of the strategic business network adapt their behaviour to that of other partners, thereby expanding cooperaton to include informal links, too (Jarillo, 1988, p. 31-41).

It must be underlined that both of the approaches regarding the creaton of business networks are not opposed to each other. These approaches should be considered as complementary (Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2010, p. 14-15). Moreover, the literature pertaining to industrial marketng indicates a wide range of companies’ cooperaton concepts connected with the idea of business network. It is shown that cooperaton can be developed in clusters (DeBresson, 1996, p. 161), joint ventures, strategic alliances (Ancarani and Shankar, 2003, p. 2-3), logistcs networks (Wimmer, Mandják and Esse, 2010, p. 2-3), virtual organizatons (Anderson, Håkansson and Johanson, 1994, p. 1) etc. A detailed analysis, however, reveals that each of the identfed structures consttutes a specifc type of a business network, enriched by additonal assumptons or, in some cases, considered from the perspectve of a dyadic relatonship (Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2010, p. 16-21; Anderson et al., 1994, p. 1-2).

Network relatonships may be established and maintained at the local level, the country level or broader – at the internatonal level encompassing foreign enttes. According to the network model of internatonalisaton, the process of company’s internatonalisaton is defned as the establishment, maintenance and development of formal and informal relatonships with network partcipants on foreign markets (Johanson and Matsson, 1988, p. 287). This model stresses the importance of developing long-term interactons with enttes from the foreign environment (Blankenburg, 1995). In case the relatons are extended beyond the local, country framework, the networks become global networks, i.e. networks including also foreign enttes.

The idea of a strategic network can be linked to the concept of logistcs networks and supply chain. The supply chain can be defned as a network of connected and interdependent organisatons which act on the basis of joint cooperaton, jointly control, manage and improve the resource and goods flows from suppliers to the fnal consumer. Therefore, supply chain consttutes a fragment of the overall subject of business networks. Encompassing foreign enttes, supply chain is a selected, limited in terms of its objects, fragment of a general global business network.

Research carried out to date devotes most of its atenton precisely to the vertcal network relatonships between customers and suppliers within supply chain (see: Håkansson, Johanson and Wootz, 1976, p. 319-332; Ford, 1984, p. 101-113; Gadde and Snechota, 2000, p. 305-316; Hollensen, 2003, p. 197-254; Golicic, 2007, p. 719-739; Barry, Dion and Johnson, 2008, p. 114-135). This is a result of more intense cooperaton between companies and enttes forming their supply chain as opposed to other enttes in their environment (such as compettors, influental enttes). Additonally, this might be linked to more clearly visible positve effects which can be ted to network relatonships within supply chain (also at the internatonal scale). That is the reason why partcular atenton should be in fact given to the analysis of relatonships and network relatonships between enttes within supply chain.

Conceptual framework

The term “high technologies” encompasses areas and products which are characterised by high R&D intensity and additonally a high level of innovatveness, short life cycles of products and processes, fast diffusion of innovatons, a growing demand for highly qualifed staff (especially in the feld of technical and natural sciences), great capital outlays, high investment risk (and fast “ageing” of investment), close scientfc and technical cooperaton (within individual countries and on the internatonal arena, between companies and research insttutons), and growing competton in internatonal trade (Niedbalska, 1999, p. 98).

The clear specifcity of the operaton profle of high-tech companies, resultng from the quoted defniton, is the reason why in the case of these enttes, due to short life cycles and usually long development period of products, the ability to gain advanced knowledge, broaden the technological base, and reduce costs and risk becomes important, and this indeed may be secured by cooperaton and business networks (see European Commission, 2003, p. 9).

On the other hand, internatonalisaton of high-tech companies operatons may be perceived to be not a mater of choice, but a necessity. Domestc market creates too limited demand for products offered by these companies which have to be quickly commercialised (Madsen and Servais, 1997, p .561-583; Spence, 2003, p. 227). The more so is internatonal orientaton necessary for small and medium-sized high-tech companies, i.e. for their growth and long-term survival (Karagozoglu and Lindell, 1998). It seems that the necessity of operatng at the internatonal scale together with the rest of the specifcity of operaton of high-tech companies is the reason why foreign enttes should be especially interestng business partners for these companies. Due to different locaton, business environment and experience, these enttes possess different knowledge (ofen perceived to be more advanced) and different resources. For this reason cooperaton with these enttes should be measurably benefcial to high-tech companies.

Taking into consideraton the specifcity of high-tech companies, a conceptual research framework was developed based upon the above presented interrelatons between global business networks and supply chain. It embraces three elements: global business networks and high-tech company’s relatonships with different local and foreign enttes; cooperaton and relatonships within supply chain; and, fnally, the company’s growth and compettveness as important elements of a growth strategy of high-tech company (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Conceptual Framework

A high-tech company operates within a global business network maintaining various relatonships with different types of local and foreign enttes (suppliers, customers, subcontractors, influental enttes, compettors). Supply chain and vertcal relatonships play a signifcant role as part of a business network. The analysis below places a special emphasis on these relatonships and high-tech company’s cooperaton within supply chain.

It is assumed that the above-mentoned interrelatons and including them in a strategy is important for the high-tech company’s growth and compettveness. Business networks and cooperaton are not the sole factors influencing the company’s growth; however, the analysis aims to indicate a certain tendency and to point out the importance of global business networks.

The further parts of the artcle frstly present a theoretcal analysis and previous research based on the author’s own and secondary data concerning global business networks and cooperaton within supply chain as an important basis for the growth strategy of high-tech companies. Secondly, taking for the basis the conclusions from previous research, an analysis of the most recent author’s own research concerning cooperaton of high-tech companies within supply chain and the role of this cooperaton in the growth and compettveness of the discussed companies is presented.

Global business networks and cooperaton within supply chain as a source of growth and compettveness of high-tech companies – the analysis of previous research

Benefts from global business networks

Business networks and network relatonships require a new look at the issue of the company’s growth and compettveness which has to take into account the effects of relatonships and many interrelatons between business enttes. The existence of global business networks may be a source of many potental benefts for a high-tech company, which in turn may contribute to its growth and compettveness. Amongst the important benefts from building relatonships within global business networks and cooperaton, there would be the following (Glabiszewski and Sudolska, 2009, p. 17; Gorynia and Jankowska, 2008, p. 136; Plawgo, 2005, p. 21; Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2012, p. 54-72; Sudolska, 2008, p. 109):

  • access to resources and capabilites,
  • access to knowledge,
  • increasing the innovatveness of the company and its products,
  • cost reducton,
  • reducing operatonal risk,
  • increasing bargaining power against other enttes,
  • the benefts of specialisaton,
  • economies of scale and increased market range (at the local and internatonal scale).

Amongst the above-mentoned benefts the issues of resources and knowledge deserve special emphasis as regards high-tech companies. Network relatonships enable acquisiton of resources which are at partners’ disposal and also give ability to obtain resources unavailable thus far to any of the partes. It is straightorwardly stressed that resources which are difcult to duplicate cannot be obtained through ordinary market transactons, but through an exchange within the network relatonship framework (Ring, 1996, p.10). Thanks to foreign network relatonships, companies are open to both domestc and foreign external resources. The research confrms that amongst high-tech companies in Poland mutual supplementaton of resources (and especially technology) is a popular form of interrelatons between companies of diverse competence and capabilites (Włosiński, Szerenos, 2006, p. 85). On the other hand, the research from New Zealand suggests that high technology companies, which increase their resource base through external relaton networks, atain a higher sales growth (Wilson and Appiah-Kubi, 2002, p. 54-59).

In the case of high-tech companies, sometmes straightorwardly called knowledge intensive frms, knowledge is especially important (Johnson, 2004, p. 139- 154). Knowledge is of partcular importance for the compettveness of companies, since their unique integraton is the factor that can differentate a company. The company’s learning processes are amplifed in partcular by network relatonships (Johansson, 2001, p. 23; Håkansson, Havila and Pedersen, 1999 pp. 443, 450). The research confrms that in the case of companies within the biotechnology sector in Poland, the imperatve factor inducing companies to cooperate is the craving for knowledge. Another important reason for establishing cooperaton is conduct of research on new products and technologies (Żelazko, 2009, p. 98). Empirical data also confrms that large innovatve projects are developed, managed and commercialised within business networks rather than by single enterprises (European Commission, 2003, p. 38).

Owing to the exchange of resources and knowledge within global business network, it is possible to increase the innovatveness of the company and its products. In order to maintain the compettve advantage on internatonal markets, high-tech companies must have technological advantage (Li, Lam and Qian, 2000, p. 457). At the same tme, the growing correlaton between previously independent technologies makes it more and more difcult for the companies to develop them on their own (Contractor, Kim and Beldona, 2002, p. 496). Cooperaton consttutes a signifcant factor in the process of discovery, applicaton and diffusion of innovaton (OECD, 2000, p. 38). Vertcal relatonships (with suppliers and customers) (Håkansson, Lundgren, 1995, p. 307-309) and horizontal relatonships (with research insttutes, compettors or complementary companies) (Håkansson and Lundgren 1995, p. 308; Thomas and Ford, 1995, p. 271), as well as social networks (Davies and Koza, 2001, p. 95-102), influence the company’s innovaton. In turn, innovaton is crucial for the company’s growth and compettveness (Drucker, 1985; Kay, 1993), even more under global competton conditons.

Global business networks and network relatonships may additonally have a positve effect, among other things, on the course of producton and logistc processes inside the company, which together contribute to an increase in effectveness, increasing bargaining power against other enttes, as well as to cost minimisaton and risk reducton. Thanks to local and foreign relatonships, a company may specialise in business actvites in these areas of the value chain which allow it to obtain compettveness to the greatest degree (Cravens, Piercy, Shipp, 1996, p. 204; Christopher, Payne and Ballantyne, 2002, p. 121).

he benefts of global business networks related to the expansion of high-tech companies should also be noted. This refers both to gaining new local customers and to expansion on foreign markets through relatonships with foreign enttes, i.e. company’s internatonalisaton. Research (Kennedy and Keeney, 2006; Schwens and Kabst, 2006) confrms that in the case of high-tech companies cooperaton is an important mechanism of entering foreign market, which enables them to accelerate the sales cycles and reduce the risk. Moreover, it should be notced that the processes of compettve strategy internatonalisaton as well as the new sources of its compettveness occur alongside the process of extending company’s operaton to new markets. Thus internatonalisaton generates potental for the company’s growth (Sapienza, Auto, George and Zahra, 2006, p. 919-920). As a result of extending operaton to new markets, a growth in sales volume may occur. This in turn contributes to achieving economies of scale through increasing the scale of producton and makes it possible to avoid the negatve effects of shortening the high-tech product life cycle.

In order to beneft from global business networks for a long-term and in a possibly sustainable manner, a strategic approach to building these networks is necessary. In one word, global business networks and cooperaton must become a permanent strategy basis.

The research conducted in 2007 on a sample of 74 high-tech companies (RatajczakMrozek, 2010) proved that 76% of the surveyed high-tech companies, which actvely built network relatonships with foreign enttes, achieved fnancial and non-fnancial results which were beter than these of their closest compettors. For the sake of comparison, amongst the companies which were passive in terms of building network relatonships and business networks, only as few as 58% of companies declared achievement of beter results. Furthermore, the thesis that the achievement of compettve advantage by high-tech companies is connected with actve and conscious building of network relatonships was also positvely verifed in terms of statstcal regression.

In that research the relatve differences in fnancial and non-fnancial performance were studied based on a consolidated formula including proft, sale volume, return on investment (ROI), and market share. Using the Likert scale the respondents were to provide their own self-assessment of these measures in relaton to the closest compettors. At the same tme, it should be remembered that actve building of network relatonships is not the only factor having a bearing on the results achieved by the surveyed high-tech companies, nevertheless, the observed trend enabled confrmaton of a positve influence of actve and conscious building of network relatonships on the results achieved by these companies.

Positve effects of cooperaton within supply chain

Of all the groups of enttes with which companies (both high-tech and representng traditonal sectors) may cooperate, atenton is mostly paid to these consttutng links in supply chain (see Gadde and Snechota, 2000, p. 305-316; Hollensen, 2003, p. 197- 254; Golicic, 2007, p. 719-739; Barry, Dion and Johnson, 2008, p. 114-135). Moreover, the research confrms that vertcal links (between customers and suppliers) are more ofen developed among high-tech companies located in Poland than horizontal links (between compettors or insttutons of research or educaton), which concerns both cooperaton with natonal (Włosiński and Szerenos, 2006) and foreign enttes (Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2010; Włosiński, Szerenos, 2006). Generally, companies contnue to cooperate with each other within the framework of supply chain more and more ofen.

The great importance atached to cooperaton with enttes within supply chain is connected with positve results, which are faster and more directly notced and which may be connected with cooperaton within supply chain (in the form of, for instance, reducton of costs or increase in the volume of orders placed by customers). The direct effects of cooperaton with other types of enttes may be more difcult to point out or may manifest in a longer period.

Development of close relatonships with customers is a key area of companies’ operaton, especially on business to business (B2B) markets (Fonfara 2004, p. 80, 116- 121). Close cooperaton with customers offers a wide range of benefts to companies. Firstly, it enables reducton of service costs. The retenton of existng customers is much cheaper than winning new ones. Additonally, it enables the development of a product offer tailored to individual needs of customers thanks to including them in product development processes. It also facilitates the development of customer loyalty (Hollensen, 2003, p. 202-223). In turn, cooperaton with suppliers can lead to a signifcant reducton of costs thanks to the implementaton of appropriate logistc solutons, just-intme delivery or joint product improvements etc. (Hollensen 2003, p. 223-231).

The empirical analysis of 74 high-tech companies carried out in 2007 confrmed that high-tech companies which perceived their results beter than these of their compettors utlised the relatons established within the supply chain more intensively (RatajczakMrozek, 2010).

On the other hand, the analysis of the data from the simulaton experiments carried out in 2012 showed that it is more proftable for high-tech companies to collaborate with enterprises which have greater capacites and can offer greater supply, which reduces the number of supply chains. (Kawa, Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2012). This analysis was carried out on the basis of a developed model based on the graph theory, the business network concept and the compettveness indicator (an average of the four results – proft, market share, sales volume and ROI). Four ters of enterprises have been distnguished. The frst ter was represented by a high-tech flagship company followed by assemblers, suppliers, and factories. The flagship company initates the confguraton of supply chain which is induced by the fnal customer. Therefore, it was assumed that supply chains were created for the needs of a specifc transacton induced by the customer’s demand.

Cooperaton within supply chain versus compettveness and growth of companies – empirical research

Data collecton and sample characteristcs

Data was obtained from a survey conducted between February and June 2011[1]. The questonnaire was sent by mail. The address list was prepared on the basis of a natonal data base by the company Kompass Poland. The dataset included companies representng all industries from all over Poland, including high-tech companies. The sample was selected randomly, which made it possible to generalise on the whole populaton. Out of 192 answers the data concerning high-tech companies operatng abroad has been chosen. The paper presents the data concerning 62 high-tech companies.

Delimitaton of high-tech sector is based on the concept of industry and the name “high-tech” is given to companies (producton and service) which belong to selected industries in accordance with the Eurostat classifcaton. These industries are: manufacture of basic pharmaceutcal products; manufacture of ofce machinery and computers; manufacture of radio, television and communicaton equipment and apparatus; manufacture of medical, precision and optcal instruments, watches and clocks; manufacture of aircraf and spacecraf; post and telecommunicatons; and informaton technology.

Almost 80% of the research sample was made up of micro, small and mediumsized enterprises (according to the criterion of 249 employees), whilst:

  • 50% were medium enterprises,
  • 22.5% – small enterprises,
  • 6.5% – micro enterprises.

The remaining 21% were large and very large enterprises. Private enttes defnitely dominated (over 90% of the sample). The size and ownership structure of the surveyed companies is consistent with the structure of the entre Polish high-tech industry, which is mainly made up of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The characteristc of the surveyed high-tech companies in terms of the course of their internatonalisaton process is interestng. It is so much important as the further presented analysis concerns cooperaton of high-tech companies with foreign enttes, i.e. in the aspect of operaton on the global market. Most of the surveyed companies (72%) have run internatonal operaton for at least 3 years, meaning that they already have some experience as regards actvity on the internatonal arena and that they should have proper experience in contacts with foreign enttes.

Undoubtedly the applied forms of internatonalisaton are dominated by direct export (67.7% of the surveyed companies), subcontractng (43.5%), and indirect export (30.6%). Each tme non-capital and capital cooperaton as well as own direct investments are carried out by less 15% of the analysed high-tech companies . In the future the analysed companies plan to turn towards more advanced forms of internatonalisaton (an increase in non-capital and capital cooperaton, and direct investments) and turn away from the forms which to a less degree encompass advanced knowledge transfer (especially indirect export and subcontractng).

Data analysis

The frst stage of the analysis includes the analysis of an average assessment of the importance atached by all surveyed high-tech companies to cooperaton with partcular types of foreign enttes from the perspectve of the companies’ performance (see Table 1).

Table 1. The importance of cooperaton with partcular types of foreign enttes for the high-tech companies performance
Customers 4.38
Suppliers 3.95
Compettors 2.61
Business agents 3.38
Influental enttes 2.73
Answer scale: 1 – hardly important, 2 – litle important, 3 – no opinion, 4 – important, 5 – very important

On average vertcal cooperaton within successive links of supply chain (suppliers, business agents, and customers) is of the greatest importance for the achieved results amongst all the analysed high-tech companies. On the other hand, influental enttes and compettors get the lowest assessment. These results are compatble with the general trend observed on the market and confrmed by previous research, whilst in this case they relate not so much to the fact of cooperaton itself as to its effects.

The next stage of the analysis deals with identfcaton of company groups with varying approaches to cooperaton within supply chain. The division is carried out based upon the analysis of responses pertaining to the assessment of the importance of the signifcance ascribed to cooperaton with various foreign enttes within supply chain for the company’s performance. An average assessment of the importance of cooperaton with three types of foreign enttes is taken into account: customers, suppliers, and business agents. This is the basis for distnguishing two groups within the analysed high-tech companies:

  • SCHigh, i.e. companies ascribing great importance for their performance to cooperaton within supply chain (an average assessment of cooperaton with customers, suppliers and subcontractors ≥ 4.0), 34 companies in total;
  • SCLow, i.e. companies ascribing litle importance for their performance to cooperaton within supply chain (an average < 4.0), 27 companies in total.

The two distnguished groups represent a relatvely similar number, which is important in view of further analysis and making comparisons.

Taking into account the two groups of high-tech companies with different approaches to the assessment of the importance of the signifcance ascribed to cooperaton with various enttes within supply chain for their performance, an atempt to verify whether these approaches have any bearing on the growth and compettveness of these companies can be made.

With a view to assessing the growth and compettveness of the companies, fnancial and non-fnancial company’s performance indicators, which cover proft, return on investment (ROI), sales volume and market share achieved by the respondents, were analysed:

  • in 2010 compared with 2007 (the analysis of growth),
  • in 2010 compared with these of the closest compettors (the analysis of compettveness).

Due to the difcultes in comparing companies with different characteristcs (taking into account such elements as size, ownership, and industry), a subjectve assessment method of comparison was adopted based upon the relatve assessment of the companies themselves. The applicaton of such an evaluaton method facilitates the comparison of companies with different characteristcs in terms of their overall performance. The adaptaton of this evaluaton method is based upon the earlier research (Fonfara, 2010; Fonfara, 2012).

The 5-point Likert scale was used for the assessment. The respondents, by answering the questons in the questonnaire relatng to four aspects of their performance (proft, ROI, sales volume, and market share) were to provide their own self-assessment in relaton to their closest compettors or the year 2007 (1 – considerably worse, 2 – worse, 3 – almost the same, 4 – beter, 5 – considerably beter). A score above 3.0 means that the company deemed its performance to have been beter than this of its compettors or recorded a performance growth (compared to 2007). It should be noted that due to the applied scale the relatve differences in ratng may seemingly appear to be rather small. It is, however, largely caused by a small dispersion of the minimum and maximum ratng (1 – 5).

Table 2 presents the average results for the above-mentoned fnancial and non-fnancial indicators of high-tech companies’ performance in terms of growth and compettveness and the division by the two indicated varying approaches to cooperaton within supply chain.

Table 2. Financial and non-fnancial indicators of high-tech companies’ performance in terms of growth and compettveness
Performance indicatorSCHighSCLow
Growth (performance indicators in relaton to year 2007)
Proft 29 3.76 25 3.52
ROI 29 3.52 25 3.20
Sales volume 29 3.66 25 3.56
Market share 29 3.52 25 3.52
Average of four performance indicators 29 3.62 25 3.45
Compettveness (performance indicators in relaton to the closest compettors)
Proft 20 3.85 19 3.37
ROI 20 3.60 19 3.05
Sales volume 21 3.57 19 3.21
Market share 22 3.45 20 3.20
Average of four performance indicators 20 3.62 18 3.21
N – The number of responses regarding the specifc performance indicator Answer scale: 1 – considerably worse, 2 – worse, 3 – almost the same, 4 – beter, 5 – considerably beter

The results presented in the above table indicate a very distnct trend. In terms of both growth (in relaton to 2007) and compettveness (in relaton to the closest compettors), within each of the analysed performance indicators, the high-tech companies ascribing great importance for their performance to cooperaton within supply chain (SCHigh) achieve higher results compared to the companies ascribing litle importance to this cooperaton (SCLow). The only excepton is the market share, where both analysed groups record the same results, meaning that the analysed high-tech companies ascribing great importance to cooperaton within supply chain demonstrate a higher growth as well as the level of compettveness than the companies, which do not ascribe such importance (of course, from the perspectve of their own assessment of the performance).

The carried out analysis confrms that cooperaton within supply chain is an important basis for the strategy aimed at assurance of growth and compettveness of high-tech companies. At the same tme, it should be repeated that cooperaton within supply chain is not the sole factor influencing the company’s growth. However, the analysis aims to confrm a certain tendency, and not statstcal interrelatons.

Conclusions and further research

The analysis carried out in the artcle proved that global business networks, and especially cooperaton within supply chain, is an important basis for the growth strategy of high-tech companies, bearing in mind that supply chain forms an important part of a global business network. The necessity for treatng cooperaton and building network relatons at a global scale as permanent elements of the strategy should be stressed. Only such approach to cooperaton and global business networks may assure possibly sustainable growth.

However, the analysis is not free of certain limitatons, which simultaneously suggest further areas of study. First of all, the questons connected with the adopted industrial criterion of high-tech companies’ delimitaton arise. Although it is a generally adopted criterion, which is most useful in surveys, one should be aware that the category of “industry” is broad enough to encompass individual companies applying technologies which are advanced to various degrees, and companies characterised by different degrees of innovatveness or involvement in research and development. There is a possibility that technologically advanced companies are found outside the listed industries and, on the other hand, not much technologically advanced enttes are encountered within them. Secondly, it would be important that further research encompass a comparison of the results of the presented analysis with the answers of companies representng traditonal industries, which would enable one to show how specifc the indicated solutons are to solely high-tech industries.

It may be antcipated that the issues connected with cooperaton and global business networks will be more and more important, both in economic practce and in the cognitve sphere, hence it is crucial to contnue research in this area.


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  1. The Research Project “Development of business networks in a company internatonalizaton process” fnanced by Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Educaton, 2010-2012, project leader K. Fonfara.