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Formal Contracts in the Presence of Relational Enforcement Mechanisms: Evidence from Technology Development Projects

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Author Info

  • Michael D. Ryall

    ()
    (Melbourne Business School, Melbourne, Victoria 3053, Australia)

  • Rachelle C. Sampson

    ()
    (Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742)

Abstract

Formal contracting addresses the moral hazard problems inherent in interfirm deals via explicit terms designed to achieve incentive alignment. Alternatively, when firms expect to interact repeatedly, relational mechanisms may achieve similar results without the associated costs. However, as we now know from a growing body of theoretical and empirical work, the resulting intuition--that relational mechanisms will be substituted for formal ones whenever possible--does not generally hold. The extent to which firms substitute relational mechanisms for formal ones in the presence of repeated interaction is an empirical question that forms the basis of this paper. We study a sample of 52 joint technology development contracts in the telecommunications and microelectronics industries and devise a coding scheme to allow empirical comparison of contract terms. Counter to the above intuition (but consistent with recent research), we find that a firm's contracts are more detailed and more likely to include penalties when it engages in frequent deals (whether with the same or different partners). Our results suggest complementarity between formal and relational contracts, and have implications for optimal contracting, particularly in high technology sectors.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1090.0995
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 55 (2009)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
Pages: 906-925

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:55:y:2009:i:6:p:906-925

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Related research

Keywords: contracts; repeated interactions; R& D; alliances;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Iossa, Elisabetta & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2011. "Contracts as Threats: on a Rationale For Rewarding A while Hoping For B," CEPR Discussion Papers 8195, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Marco Furlotti, 2007. "There is more to contracts than incompleteness: a review and assessment of empirical research on inter-firm contract design," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 61-99, March.
  3. Jean Beuve & Stéphane Saussier, 2012. "Interfirm cooperation in strategic relationships: the role of formal contract," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 811-836, August.
  4. Lumineau, Fabrice & Frechet, Marc & Puthod, Dominique, 2011. "An organizational learning perspective on contract design," MPRA Paper 38360, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Hideshi Itoh & Hodaka Morita, 2006. "Formal Contracts, Relational Contracts, and the Holdup Problem," CESifo Working Paper Series 1786, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Lumineau, Fabrice & Quelin, Bertrand, 2012. "An Empirical Investigation of Interorganizational Opportunism and Contracting Mechanisms," MPRA Paper 38362, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Tugba GURCAYLILAR YENIDOGAN & Alp YENIDOGAN, 2013. "Sozlesme Tasarimi: Tur Operatoru-Otel Kontenjan Sozlesmeleri," Ege Academic Review, Ege University Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, vol. 13(3), pages 393-403.
  8. Niedermayer, Andras & Wu, Jianjun, 2013. "Breaking up a research consortium," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 342-353.
  9. David A. Miller & Joel Watson, 2013. "A Theory of Disagreement in Repeated Games With Bargaining," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(6), pages 2303-2350, November.
  10. Hideshi Itoh & Hodaka Morita, 2011. "Formal Contracts, Relational Contracts, and the Threat-Point Effect," CESifo Working Paper Series 3533, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Aric Rindfleisch & Kersi Antia & Janet Bercovitz & James Brown & Joseph Cannon & Stephen Carson & Mrinal Ghosh & Susan Helper & Diana Robertson & Kenneth Wathne, 2010. "Transaction costs, opportunism, and governance: Contextual considerations and future research opportunities," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 211-222, September.
  12. Niedermayer, Andras & Wu, Jianjun, 2013. "Breaking Up a Research Consortium," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 433, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  13. Zhe Zhang & Ming Jia & Difang Wan, 2012. "When does a partner’s reputation impact cooperation effects in partnerships?," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 547-571, September.

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