The role of experience in facilitating networking in a B2B context

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This PhD thesis aims to elucidate the role of experience in facilitating networking in a B2B context. This aim is achieved by explaining what the facilitators of networking at a film festival are, how these facilitators operate and contribute to stakeholders’ (filmmakers and commissioners) experiences of a film festival, and the nature and characteristics of those experiences. The study takes an interpretive approach to understanding the experiences of business professionals and therefore draws on data from semistructured interviews with 50 participants and observations undertaken at three film festivals. The interviews were both face-to-face and through video VoIP; the VoIP software used in this study was Skype. The participants were recruited mainly using snowball sampling. The results of this study highlight the importance and role of mundane experience and ordinary pleasure in facilitating networking opportunities. That hedonic experience is important in B2B networking is acknowledged in the existing literature, and this study identifies the particular facilitators of such extraordinary experiences: a relaxed ambience, a sense of festivity, the presence of alcohol, scheduling of film exhibitions and the surrounding landscapes. However, the pleasure that facilitates networking comes not only from extraordinary but also mundane experiences. The facilitators of mundane experience and ordinary pleasure (organised formal meetings, synchronisation of meetings and exhibitions, availability of equipment and resources and appropriate infrastructure, food and beverages, access to Internet/Wi-Fi, process and mass-customisation) create a sense of ease and convenience, which enables B2B professionals to network effectively. By framing the business professionals as consumers, this thesis contributes to the field of experiential marketing by recognising the importance of hedonic rather than just utilitarian experiences in the B2B context. The findings also show that the hedonic experiences that facilitate B2B networking and relationships at B2B events are co-created rather than staged or facilitated. Incidental and spontaneous encounters are key enablers of hedonic experiences, which in turn spark new ideas and facilitate B2B networking and relationships. A limitation of this study is that because of the narrow focus on documentary film festivals, the generalisability of the results on other industry professionals, non–documentary film festivals and other festivals and networking events in other industries and sectors is not possible.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorDirk Vom Lehn (Supervisor), Gretchen Larsen (Supervisor) & Sam Aryee (Supervisor)

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