A Network Perspective of Value Co-Creation in Cross-Border Relationships: Changing from 'One of Them' to 'One of Us'
For SME exporters, developing an effective value co-creation strategy appears to be a good way to overcome resource constraints and other market structural barriers in internationalisation. As an emerging topic in the marketing literature, value co-creation is mainly studied in B2C markets, and the understandings of value co-creation are still quite fragmented and abstract with limited empirical investigations. Inspired by the recent development of the business network theory and S-D logic, my thesis presents a new theoretical framework for value co-creation in cross-border business relationships. Through an in-depth case study, this research confirms ten propositions in relation to the theoretical framework and identifies the most important motives, attributes and outcomes of value co-creation. Some insights in the case are unique to value co-creation, such as hierarchical resource integration. The findings in this research indicate that the co-creation of symbolic value and the emerging value co-creation network will benefit participating firms and also attract more firms to join. Compared with other types of business relationships, the uniqueness of value co-creation is the significant interplay of trust and resource integration. More importantly, this study shows the creation of a novel network, including both B2C and B2B markets, which is wider than the integration of the prior individual networks. Overall, this new value co-creation network is competitive and viable for SME exporters to overcome internationalisation barriers. It also shifts the network position from being ‘one of them’ to becoming ‘one of us’ in the eyes of local network incumbents in the export markets. This is the fundamental goal that a SME exporter may achieve in the export market, for the benefit of long-term survival and growth.