Paper info: Umbrella Agreements as Commitments Framing Devices
Umbrella Agreements as Commitments Framing Devices
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.
This paper conceptualizes umbrella agreements as commitment framing devices. We define the concept of commitments as undertakings through which actors agree or accede to future actions. Our concept of commitments differs from the affective-behavioural form of intra and inter-organizational commitment, widely discussed in the organizational and B2B buyer behaviour literature, and argues that they are inter-cognitive achievements. Commitments are labile and predominantly loosely specified in one or more crucial dimensions. They are highly precarious, affording no ease or assurance in any dimension. We develop a conceptualisation of umbrella agreements as framing devices that enable the effective shaping and sustaining of commitments in the face of a) manifold rationality b) recursive time c) multilateral exchange that characterises inter-organizational interaction. It is the inherent precariousness of managerial commitments, and hence that of the inter-organizational webs into which they are woven, that makes umbrella agreements useful framing devices for their shaping and sustaining. It is, perhaps, their prime purpose.