Öberg, C., Dahlin, P. & Pesämaa, O. (2020). Tension in networks. Industrial Marketing Management, 19, 311-322.


Tension refers to contradictions and mostly implies any two parties disagreeing. This paper extends the lens from tension on dyadic levels to describe it in the smallest of networks: the triad. Adopting a multiple-case study methodology illustrating triadic relationships in three different settings, the paper points to how tension may occur among firms in a triad, relate to two of them, or involve all three parties. In the handling of tension and opposed to the dyadic relationship, a single party cannot easily disconnect from all its network parties, and the network discussion thereby contextualises the discussion on tension, while putting focus on the dynamics of tension. As the findings indicate, the handling may, namely, lead to new tension on a dyadic or triadic level. Compared to studies grasping tension as contradictions between two parties and thereby as a research contribution, this present study indicates how the tension may “move” around the network as initial tension is dealt with. If tension is handled through diffusion specifically, including the connection with new parties, it suggests to without exception lead to new tension, while coalition leads to decreased tension in the triad.