Controlling inter-organizational relationship transformation
Agndal, Henrik and Nilsson, Ulf (2014) Controlling inter-organizational relationship transformation. In: Nordic Accounting Conference 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark
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Drawing on theories of social exchange and strategic change, this paper presents a longitudinal study of a retail buyer’s attempts to accelerate the transformation of three arm’s length supplier relationships into relationships characterized by a collaborative atmosphere and integrated activity structure. We find that these largely thwarted attempts are characterized by three paradoxes. (1) Attempts to force the pace of change leads to clashes as change subjects do not have sufficient time to develop capabilities needed to collaborate and acquaint themselves with their counterparts. Processing at a slower pace may, however, lead to loss of momentum and enthusiasm among staff. (2) Attempts to change structures and systems may rely on developments in relationship atmosphere. Relationship atmosphere, on the other hand, may not develop without a clear path towards new activity structures. I.e., the sequencing of change activities is a challenge to change agents. (3) Also timing of change initiatives is characterized by a paradox. We see a desire early on to focus on quick gains and postpone mode demanding activities; at the same time, more substantial rewards later on may rely on challenging the relationship at an early stage. These paradoxes lead us to conclude that accelerated, planned relationship transformation is subject to diseconomies of time compression as well as diseconomies of time expansion. The association between speed of transformation and the likelihood of its success therefore represents an inverted u-shape.
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