Coping with Problems of Understanding in Interorganizational Relationships: Using Formalization as a Means to make Sense
AbstractResearch into the management of interorganizational relationships has hitherto primarily focused on problems of coordination, control and to a lesser extent, legitimacy. In this article, we assert that partners cooperating in such relationships are also confronted with â€˜problems of understandingâ€™. Such problems arise from differences between partners in terms of culture, experience, structure and industry, and from the uncertainty and ambiguity that participants in interorganizational relationships experience in early stages of collaboration. Building on Karl Weickâ€™s theory of sensemaking, we advance that participants in interorganizational relationships use formalization as a means to make sense of their partners, the interorganizational relationships in which they are engaged and the contexts in which these are embedded so as to diminish problems of understanding. We offer a systematic overview of the mechanisms through which formalization facilitates sensemaking, including: (1) focusing participantsâ€™ attention; (2) provoking articulation, deliberation and reflection; (3) instigating and maintaining interaction; and (4) reducing judgment errors and individual biases, and diminishing incompleteness and inconsistency of cognitive representations. In this way, the article contributes to a better understanding of the relationships between formalization and sensemaking in collaborative relationships, and it carries Karl Weickâ€™s thinking on the relationship between sensemaking and organizing forward in the context of interorganizational management.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam. in its series Research Paper with number ERS-2006-034-STR.
Date of creation: 24 Jul 2006
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Formalization; Sensemaking; Interorganizational Cooperation; Understanding;
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- Lumineau, Fabrice & Malhotra, Deepak, 2011. "Shadow of the contract: how contract structure shapes inter-firm dispute resolution," MPRA Paper 38359, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- S. Desmidt & A. Prinzie, 2009. "Does your mission statement have any value? An explorative analysis of the effectiveness of mission statements from a communication perspective," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 09/568, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
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