Practitioners often are confused by theories that offer ambiguous prescriptions for designing the institutional forms or governance structures in which business activities are conducted. Unclear prescriptions for organizing tasks within the main governance alternatives leave key design decisions unguided: which tasks to perform in‐house (hierarchy), which to contract to outside agencies (market), and which to perform jointly by economic units within and outside the firm (hybrid)? A popular current theory ‐ transaction cost analysis ‐ suggests that governance structures should be aligned to tasks in a “mainly transaction cost economizing way.” Argues that the importance of transaction costs is overstated, and that observed patterns of firms’ governance structures suggest that firms also account for other theoretical issues ‐ production costs and strategic considerations ‐ in determining efficient boundaries. Begins by illustrating that transaction costs are not always primary. Then discusses the factors that impact production costs and transaction costs, and reviews certain strategic considerations that impact the choice of governance structure for a task. Offers practitioners guidance in choosing governance structures through a contingency analysis that examines the interaction of production costs, transaction costs, and strategic considerations. Illustrates normative implications for designing governance structures through corporate examples that are driven by both cost and strategy considerations.
Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 1, 1997
Keywords: Governance; Hybrid systems; Production costs; Strategic planning; Transaction costs
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