Research on IT-Enabled Interactions in Interfirm Cooperative Relationship


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date27 Jun 2017


This dissertation conducts three studies to explore the roles of IT-enabled interactions in interfirm cooperation. Study One develops the scales of IT-enabled interactions, which serve as the basic instruments for the following two studies. In this study, we generate the scales of the IT-enabled formal and informal interactions in Chinese context using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. First, this study reviews literature on IT-enabled interactions in interfirm relationships and designs an open-questionnaire through in-depth interviews. Answers from 72 pairs of supplier and manufacture are coded, and the preliminary item pool is generated through the qualitative analysis. Next, experts are invited for a pretest. A small-scale pretest with 108 manufacturing firms is conducted to purify and modify the item pool. Finally, a large-scale analysis with 325 manufacturing firms is conducted to check the reliability and validity of the measurements.

Study Two explores how to establish firms’ perceived ability to mutually monitor each other via IT-enabled interactions. Based on literature in IT and interfirm governance theories, we propose that IT-enabled interactions can improve network embeddedness, which in turn improves mutual monitoring, and further enhances the cooperation performance. Via data from 280 manufacturing firms, all the hypotheses get supported. The unilateral monitoring mechanism prevalent in literature is usually characterized by information asymmetry favoring one party. Despite that this mechanism can safeguard the exchange from opportunism, it could harm the relationship due to the reactance effect and sense of inequity due to information asymmetry. Mutual monitoring, however, overcomes these reactance effects since both parties perceive themselves as equally able to monitor the other via common partners. Identifying this new network-induced monitoring system extends prior research on firms' choices of monitoring mechanisms.

Besides monitoring the partners to save transactional costs, firms also strive to match resources with each other to save operational costs. However, few researchers have explored how to facilitate interfirm resource matching via IT-enabled interactions. Therefore, Study Three elaborates on the underlying influence paths through which IT-enabled interactions affect resource matching. Based on IT literature and the matching theory, this study suggests that IT-enabled interactions improve both direct and indirect resource transparency, which in turn improves resource matching, and further increases cooperation performance. With the same data of Study Two, we find strong support for most of the hypothesized relationships in this study. Study Three enriches extends prior literature on the roles of IT-enabled interactions in interfirm cooperation from a resource matching perspective.

    Research areas

  • IT-enabled interaction, Mutual monitoring, Resource matching capability, Cooperation