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Paper info: On the dialectics of inter-organizational relationship development


On the dialectics of inter-organizational relationship development


Siavash Alimadadi,
Anna Bengtson
Uppsala University
Anna Bengtson and
Asta Salmi
Helsinki School of Economics
Asta Salmi

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 32nd IMP-conference in Poznan, Poland in 2016.


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In this paper we investigate how business landscape changes affect the dynamics of interorganizational relationships. Our purpose in the paper is to contribute to understanding the underlying forces that bring about changes in inter-organizational relationships, and to describe the process through which actors with divergent demands affect the dynamics of inter-organizational relationships. We illustrate the changes processes via a longitudinal case study of a cross-border acquisition. We consider especially the contradictory nature of inter-organizational relationships ? that is, the recursive interplay between the actors and the relationship, which is as much grounded in actions as it is in structure. Our case illustrates that the development of the relationship reveals a pattern, in which change was the outcome of a constant interplay between opposing forces namely, exchange attitudes and counterpart’s expectation. Exchange attitude is defined as a process-oriented account through which actors create, maintain, dissolve and reconstruct their relationships, whereas counterparts’ expectations can be seen as behavioral manifestations of the structural aspect of the relationship that constrain agents actions. We found three aggregated dimensions, or poles, associated with the dialectical tensions between exchange attitudes and counterpart’s expectations. Implications for theory and practice alike are discussed.