The Dutch paper and board industry (PBI) managed to survive four centuries of capitalist development, albeit in more marginal form. Even though this industry carries great importance for the politico-economic development of the Netherlands, it has seldomly been researched. This dissertation builds a trans-disciplinary link by drawing on insights from social network research, critical management studies and critical political economy, in order to answer the central research question as to how the Dutch PBI managed to stand up to politico-economic changes, including competitive pressures, technological
changes, shifting industrial policy landscapes and labor-related concerns, since its establishment in the late 16th century.
My dissertation aims to examine the role inter-organizational networks played, and will continue to play, for the survival of industries more generally, and the Dutch PBI more specifically. By contributing to a more critical approach towards studying inter-organizational networks in management research, my dissertation acknowledges inter-organizational networks (1) as historically contingent, (2) as always involving multiple agents including the state, and (3) as arenas of power asymmetry. Furthermore, this dissertation traces four crucial dimensions of inter-organizational networks to safeguard
industrial survival over time, namely state-industry relations,capital-labor relations, technology, and competition and cooperation. Such a renewed theoretical framework for studying inter-organizational networks necessitates the advancement of current methodological approaches. Consequently, my dissertation incorporates Dialectical Network Analysis (DNA), a critical methodology, which foregrounds the convergence of
multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data sourced from diverse research methods.
This research finds that inter-organizational networks, in the case of the Dutch paper and board industry, are neither new nor heterarchic. It can thus be concluded that throughout all phases of capitalism inter-organizational networks existed within and beyond the Dutch PBI in the form of close cooperation between different companies and in the form of state-industry projects. Furthermore, the changing content, form and scope of these inter-organizational networks corresponds with the different spatial-temporal power relations between capitalist class fractions in each phase. Consequently, the inter-organizational networks at hand are not heterarchic, but exhibit different degrees of power asymmetry between the involved agents. In contrast to the wide-spread belief that
networks are a heterarchic form of cooperation, outside of markets and hierarchy, my dissertation sheds light on the fact that inter-organizational networks remain organizational models pierced by capitalist principles of profit and growth.