IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Exchange hazards, relational reliability, and contracts in China: The contingent role of legal enforceability

Listed author(s):
  • Kevin Zheng Zhou

    (School of Business, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong)

  • Laura Poppo

    (School of Business, University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA)

Building on institutional and transaction cost economics, this article proposes that legal enforceability increases the use of contract over relational reliability (e.g., beliefs that the other party acts in a non-opportunistic manner) to safeguard market exchanges characterized by non-trivial hazards. The results of 399 buyer–supplier exchanges in China show that: (1) when managers perceive that the legal system can protect their firm's interests, they tend to use explicit contracts rather than relational reliability to safeguard transactions involving risks (i.e., asset specificity, environmental uncertainty, and behavioral uncertainty); and (2) when managers do not perceive the legal system as credible, they are less likely to use contracts, and instead rely on relational reliability to safeguard transactions associated with specialized assets and environmental uncertainty, but not those involving behavioral uncertainty. We further find that legal enforceability does not moderate the effect of relational reliability on contracts, but does weaken the effect of contracts on relational reliability. These results endorse the importance of prior experience (e.g., relational reliability) in supporting the use of explicit contracts, and alternatively suggest that, under conditions of greater legal enforceability, the contract signals less regarding one's intention to be trustworthy but more about the efficacy of sanctions.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Link to full text PDF
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

File URL:
File Function: Link to full text HTML
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan & Academy of International Business in its journal Journal of International Business Studies.

Volume (Year): 41 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (June)
Pages: 861-881

in new window

Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:41:y:2010:i:5:p:861-881
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Web page:

Order Information: Web:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:41:y:2010:i:5:p:861-881. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Rebekah McClure)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.