The fast and the furious: The role of entrainment in controlled inter-organizational relationship transformation
Agndal, Henrik and Nilsson, Ulf (2019) The fast and the furious: The role of entrainment in controlled inter-organizational relationship transformation. Management Accounting Research, 43 . pp. 15-28. ISSN 1044-5005 (Print) 1096-1224 (Online)
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mar.2018.09.001
Drawing on theories of relational exchange and strategic change, this paper studies the role of entrainment in controlled, accelerated inter-organizational relationship transformation. By entrainment is understood the managed pacing, timing and sequencing of change initiatives. A longitudinal study of a retail buyer's attempts to control the transformation of three arm's length supplier relationships into more collaborative relationships is performed. These largely thwarted attempts are characterized by three paradoxes: (1) Attempts to force the pace of change leads to clashes when change subjects are unable to acquaint themselves with their counterparts or develop capabilities needed to collaborate. Reducing the pace, however, may lead to loss of momentum and enthusiasm. (2) Sequencing of change activities is a challenge to change agents as attempts to change relationship structures rely on developments in relationship atmosphere, which in turn may not materialize without a clear path towards new structures. (3) A focus on quick gains to generate short-term change momentum means that the relationship is not challenged by demanding activities yielding more substantial rewards and change momentum in the long run. These paradoxes lead us to conclude that accelerated, controlled relationship transformation is subject to diseconomies of time compression as well as diseconomies of time expansion.
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