On the Genesis of Interfirm Relational Contracts
29 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017
Date Written: November 1, 2017
In a wide range of circumstances, relational contracts can enable strategies that might not otherwise be possible. While most studies focus on the maintenance and performance of existing relational contracts, this paper explores the origins of interfirm relational contracts, focusing on how firms go from no contract to a relational contract. Relying on a microanalytic investigation of the birth of the desktop laser printer industry, we identify a combination of four emergent and deliberate steps that enhance the probability that a relational contract will arise: pre-existing personal relationships; capability complementarity; cultural similarity; and pursuit of non-competing but mutually reinforcing revenue models. We consider how each of these factors helps to undergird the parties’ clarity and credibility to increase the probability of the genesis of a relational contract, which in turn enables collaborating firms to undertake successful, difficult-to-imitate strategies.
Keywords: Strategic Alliances, Relational Contracting, Organizational Capabilities, Strategy Implementation, Competitive Advantage, Canon-HP Alliance
JEL Classification: L14, L24, L63, M10, O32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation