IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Towards Reconciling Transaction Cost Economics and the Knowledge-based View of the Firm: The Context of Interfirm Collaborations


  • Bruce Heiman
  • Jack Nickerson


This paper presents a set of relationships that have the potential to reconcile the dispute between the knowledge-based view of the firm (KBV) and transaction cost economics (TCE). Several KBV scholars have argued that governance choice need rely only on bounded rationality and not on opportunism where TCE scholars maintain that both behavioural assumptions are needed to explain governance choice.We help to resolve part of the debate by developing an extension ofTCE to encompass certain knowledge-based attributes of transactions.We argue that high-levels of two knowledge transfer attributes - knowledge tacitness or problem solving complexity - lead to the adoption of the knowledge management practices - high-bandwidth channels or idiosyncratic communication codes - to economize on the cognitive limitations of man. It is these knowledge management practices that generate contracting hazards for whichTCE, and its attendant concern about opportunism, predicts equity-based collaborations are superior to non-equity-based collaborations.The linkages between knowledge transfer attributes, knowledge management practices, and governance choice add value via implications for managers which are not readily apparent from either theory alone.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Heiman & Jack Nickerson, 2002. "Towards Reconciling Transaction Cost Economics and the Knowledge-based View of the Firm: The Context of Interfirm Collaborations," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 97-116.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ijecbs:v:9:y:2002:i:1:p:97-116 DOI: 10.1080/13571510110103001

    Download full text from publisher

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

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Christophe Van den Bulte & Rudy K. Moenaert, 1998. "The Effects of R&D Team Co-location on Communication Patterns among R&D, Marketing, and Manufacturing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(11-Part-2), pages 1-18, November.
    3. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1993. "Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
    4. Winter, Sidney G, 1988. "On Coase, Competence, and the Corporation," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 163-180, Spring.
    5. Fleming, Lee & Sorenson, Olav, 2001. "Technology as a complex adaptive system: evidence from patent data," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1019-1039, August.
    6. David Teece, 2008. "Time-Cost Tradeoffs: Elasticity Estimates And Determinants For International Technology Transfer Projects," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 2, pages 23-30 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    7. Richard L. Daft & Robert H. Lengel, 1986. "Organizational Information Requirements, Media Richness and Structural Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 554-571, May.
    8. Oxley, Joanne E, 1997. "Appropriability Hazards and Governance in Strategic Alliances: A Transaction Cost Approach," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 387-409, October.
    9. Eric von Hippel, 1994. ""Sticky Information" and the Locus of Problem Solving: Implications for Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(4), pages 429-439, April.
    10. Riordan, Michael H. & Williamson, Oliver E., 1985. "Asset specificity and economic organization," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 365-378, December.
    11. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Knowledge-Based Approaches to the Theory of the Firm: Some Critical Comments," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(5), pages 470-476, October.
    12. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "More Critical Comments on Knowledge-Based Theories of the Firm," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(5), pages 519-523, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Foss, Nicolai J. & Pedersen, Torben, 2001. "The MNC as a Knowledge Structure: The Roles of Knowledge Sources and Organizational Instruments for Knowledge Creation and Transfer," Working Papers 12-2001, Copenhagen Business School, Department of International Economics and Management.
    2. Nicolai J. Foss & Kenneth Husted & Snejina Michailova, 2010. "Governing Knowledge Sharing in Organizations: Levels of Analysis, Governance Mechanisms, and Research Directions," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 455-482, May.
    3. Li, Dan, 2013. "Multilateral R&D alliances by new ventures," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 241-260.
    4. Nickerson, Jack A. & Yen, C. James & Mahoney, Joseph T., 2011. "Exploring the Problem-Finding and Problem-Solving Approach for Designing Organizations," Working Papers 11-0107, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    5. A. Willem & M. Buelens, 2003. "Making Competencies Cross Business Unit Boundaries: The Interplay between Inter-Unit Coordination, Trust and Knowledge Transferability," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 03/176, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    6. Xiaohua Yang & Elly Ho & Artemis Chang, 2012. "Integrating the resource-based view and transaction cost economics in immigrant business performance," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 753-772, September.
    7. Donato, Ronald, 2010. "Extending transaction cost economics: Towards a synthesised approach for analysing contracting in health care markets with experience from the Australian private sector," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(11), pages 1989-1996, December.
    8. Bruce A. Heiman & Jack A. Nickerson, 2004. "Empirical evidence regarding the tension between knowledge sharing and knowledge expropriation in collaborations," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(6-7), pages 401-420.
    9. Nicolai J. Foss, 2013. "Knowledge governance: meaning, origins and implications," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. repec:dau:papers:123456789/2412 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Delmas, Magali & Marcus, Alfred, 2003. "Firms' Choice of Regulation Instruments to Reduce Pollution: A Tansaction Cost Approach," Research Papers 1806, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    12. Claude Ménard, 2004. "The Economics of Hybrid Organizations," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 345-345, September.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:ijecbs:v:9:y:2002:i:1:p:97-116. 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: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.