An Organizational Learning Perspective on the Contracting Process

Strategic Organization, 2011, 9(1): 8-32

44 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011 Last revised: 11 Sep 2016

See all articles by Fabrice Lumineau

Fabrice Lumineau

University of Hong Kong

Marc Frechet

University of Toulouse

Dominique Puthod

University of Savoy

Date Written: May 3, 2011


The contracting process is a crucial step in alliance development and its success. However, the existing literature reveals surprisingly little investigation into how organizational learning relates to the process of contract making. We therefore conducted an in-depth longitudinal study of the alliance contracting process in the animated film industry. First, our findings suggest that during the contracting process, firms can learn about the way to deal with the contracting process, about themselves and their partner, and about the transaction features. Second, the case analysis indicates a combination of experiential, vicarious, and inferential learning mechanisms. Combining these insights into the objects and the mechanisms of learning during the contracting process, we discuss how contracting and learning processes are related and analyze the role of the contracting process in supporting organizational learning. The findings show that the drafting of contractual clauses fosters learning and, in turn, this learning triggers new contractual negotiations. Hence we suggest that the alignment between transaction features and the choice of contractual governance results from learning during the contracting process. We then propose avenues for future research.

Keywords: Contracting process, Strategic alliances, Organizational learning, Longitudinal case study

JEL Classification: L14, D83, D80

Suggested Citation

Lumineau, Fabrice and Frechet, Marc and Puthod, Dominique, An Organizational Learning Perspective on the Contracting Process (May 3, 2011). Strategic Organization, 2011, 9(1): 8-32, Available at SSRN:

Fabrice Lumineau (Contact Author)

University of Hong Kong ( email )

HKU Business School
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Marc Frechet

University of Toulouse ( email )

41 Allées Jules Guesde - CS 61321

Dominique Puthod

University of Savoy ( email )

27 Rue Marcoz
Chambéry, 73011

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