On the effect of relational temporariness on contractual complexity in interorganizational projects

Rik Ligthart / Leon Oerlemans / N.G. Noorderhaven

Organizations participating in interorganizational projects face a strategic choice in selecting the level of detail of their contractual arrangements governing their relationships. Previous research indicates that prior ties between organizations have a major influence on contractual complexity. However, this approach ignores the combinations of prior ties between organizations on the one hand and prior ties between individuals (as organizational members) on the other hand. Consequently, there is a possibility to further specify the theoretical relations between prior ties and contractual complexity. To address this issue this paper introduces the concept of relational temporariness, defined as the extent to which prior interorganizational and interpersonal ties are absent. Four ideal-typical relationship types, which differ in their level of relational temporariness, are proposed. Subsequently, the relative impact of various relational temporariness levels on contractual complexity levels is systematically explored. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are given.