We are currently witnessing an explosion in the number and variety of interorganizational relationships reported in the business press that are often described using buzzwords such as 'partnership' and strategic alliance'. Unfortunately, theory lags practice in the examination of this phenomenon that is increasingly becoming the model for success in many industries. From the perspective of Transaction Cost Economics, a dominant theoretical anchor, these interorganizational relationships are considered to fall between the well described extremes of market exchange and hierarchically controlled exchanges and belong to a less understood type termed the 'hybrid' (Clemons, Reddi, Row 1993, Hennart 1994). Information Technology (IT) is often the fundamental enabler of these non traditional forms of organizing (Quinn 1992) and a theoretical understanding of the phenomenon is indispensable to enable the effective exploitation of IT capabilities in such relationships. In an exploratory study to derive a process based understanding of interorganizational relationships in the distribution channel, we find evidence that interorganizational relationships can be classified into four distinct types. The four types differ significantly in the processes of operational control and boundary management as well as in the nature of information exchange and the role of information technologies. The results provide a greater understanding of action in interorganizational relationships and have implications for the design of interorganizational information systems (IOS).
Subramanian, Mani R. and Henderson, John C., "A Typology of Interorganizational Relationships: Implications for IS
Design" (1996). AMCIS 1996 Proceedings. 47.