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A Dimensional Model of Contract Characteristics in Business Relationships


Bahar Ashnai
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom
Bahar Ashnai ,
Pete Naude
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom
Pete Naude ,
Stefanos Mouzas
Lancaster University
United Kingdom
Stefanos Mouzas and StephanC. Henneberg

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 25th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2009.


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Contracts are manifestations of enforceable agreements within business relationships.In this way, contract research offers an objectified lens through which the relationship between buying and selling counterparts can be studied. Notwithstanding the significance of contracts in business marketing, issues around different types of contracts and the nature of contractual provisions have received limited attention. A typology of contract characteristics, however, may provide useful insights about the nature of business relationships and may help us understand the complexity of inter-organizational business phenomena. This study attempts to redress the existing shortcomings in the literature on business contracts by developing a typology of important contract dimensions in business relationships to allow for a systematic identification and understanding of business contract characteristics. We review previous research and propose a framework of three main dimensions of contracts that include different provisions and items of contracts. We define these dimensions as a) structural, b) enforcement, and c) coordination provisions, and identify sub-dimensions which can subsequently be used as the basis for an empirical investigation.