Fit for the task: complementarity, asymmetry, and partner selection in alliances

Furlotti, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6750-9547 and Soda, G., 2018. Fit for the task: complementarity, asymmetry, and partner selection in alliances. Organization Science. ISSN 1047-7039

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Abstract

Most existing theories of relationship formation imply that organizations establish ties to procure complementary resources, and that doing so adroitly generates relational rents.

While this entails a responsibility for organizations to recognize and harness complementarity, most theories struggle with ambiguity around the concept of resource complementarity, neglect its power implications, and rely on rules-of-thumb that assign no role to managers' intentions.

To explain the formation of ties that successfully combine critical resources, we propose that a positive interplay among resources only exists insofar as organizations use task requirements to guide their combination. As such, a well-matched tie is one that manages task resource interdependence while offsetting imbalances in task-related resources.

We test our theory on project-based, inter-organizational partnerships for public construction in Italy. We find that: (1) The probability of tie formation increases with the quality of the match between the task and actors' resources; (2) There are two distinct, task-related dimensions along which this happens: depth and scope; (3) The effect of these dimensions dwarfs the effect found by measures that assess complementarity irrespective of task; and (4) The probability of tie formation decreases when a task calls for resources that potential partners possess in unequal amounts.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Organization Science
Creators: Furlotti, M. and Soda, G.
Publisher: Informs
Date: 6 June 2018
ISSN: 1047-7039
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1287/orsc.2018.1205UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 08 May 2018 13:19
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 13:06
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/33456

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