Dynamic environments and the force to satisfy changing individual customer needs economically increase the complexity in value networks. In practice, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the question at how to assess network complexity and to subsequently decide which value network segments are ‘critical’ and thus have to be treated with priority and which can rather be neglected in managerial considerations (‘network boundary spanning’). This applies especially, when information is incomplete. The theoretical fundament is discursive, ambiguous and sometimes vague. If solutions are tangible, they often have a narrow application scope. In particular, a manager would require a means to quickly identify those ‘critical’ network elements (customers, suppliers etc.) that are disadvantageous due to an inadequate degree of complexity. Based on considerations from value network management and complex systems theory and on a thorough literature review, the present paper proposes a framework to determine managerial decisions in the course of value network boundary spanning. Besides, a generic set of complexity-related parameters is deduced from the literature that allows for a more appropriate determination of ‘critical locations’ within a value network.