This paper reports on a recent research study conceming the outsourcing of information technology activities in the United Kingdom. The study involved a large survey and a set of detailed case studies based on large and medium sized organizations. In particular the issues of contracts and partnerships are examined, which is identified as one of the key elements in successful outsourcing. The authors show the variety of approaches and perceptions that exist concerning these issues, and conclude that &ere Is much misunderstanding, particularly in relation to partnership. The paper concludes by creating a framework for helping to identify and examine the interrelationship between contractual arrangements, the required degree of contractual definition, and the characteristics of the area being outsourcecl.