Sustaining Inter-organizational Relationships Across Institutional Logics and Power Asymmetries: The Case of Fair Trade

Nicholls, Alex and Huybrechts, Benjamin (2016) Sustaining Inter-organizational Relationships Across Institutional Logics and Power Asymmetries: The Case of Fair Trade. Journal of Business Ethics. pp. 1-16.

Abstract

This paper explores an empirical puzzle, namely, how inter-organizational relationships can be sustained between organizations that draw upon distinctive—and potentially conflicting—institutional logics under conditions of power asymmetry. This research analyses cases of these relationships and suggests some key conditions underlying them. Examining relationships between ‘Fair Trade’ organizations and corporate retailers, a series of contingent factors behind the dynamic persistence of such relationships are proposed, namely: the presence of pre-existing ‘hybrid logics’; the use of boundary-spanning discourses; joint tolerance of conflict; and co-creation of common rules. These four elements are supported by a fifth mediating factor, i.e. the presence and use of a Fair Trade certification system in the collaboration. The latter appears as a central vehicle facilitating cross-logic relationships—it can be seen as a ‘boundary object’ embodying a series of narratives and discourses that are open to multiple interpretations corresponding to the dominant institutional logics of each partner organization.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Operations managament; Inter-organizational relationship; Institutional logics; Power asymmetry; Fair trade; Social enterprise; Corporate retailer; Buyer–seller exchange
Subject(s): Operations management
Centre: CABDyN Complexity Centre
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2015 10:40
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2017 10:22
Funders: N/A
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/5663

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