Task and Institutional Influences on Interorganizational Communication Strategies


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date8 Jun 2017


This dissertation follows a two-journal paper format and examines the role of communications in interorganizational collaboration. Two interrelated papers assess communication strategies used by both task-level professionals and top-level managers in response to environmental contingencies.

The first paper examines the interactive effect of interorganizational communication patterns and environmental factors on channel performance. Professionals participating in marketing collaborations across organizational boundaries can communicate via two contrasting strategies: (1) mediating issues within the confines of organizational routines and hierarchies (i.e., formalization), and (2) direct contact through interpersonal relationships (i.e., interpersonal influence). I build a theoretical model to examine the role of communication in marketing channel collaborations. I propose that in the emerging economies, channel members will communicate through both formalization and interpersonal influence to gain volitional compliance and enhance channel performance. The study also identifies two task environment factors, namely, explicit or tacit knowledge and behavioral uncertainty, and an institutional environment factor, government support; these factors moderate the relationships between communication strategies and channel outcomes. To test the theoretical model’s predictions, I design a survey and collect data from professionals who participate in a national allergy treatment program. The empirical analysis indicates that formalization has a stronger influence on the transfer of explicit knowledge than on the transfer of tacit knowledge. Both types of communications (formalization and interpersonal influence) have a stronger positive effect on compliance under low levels of government support than under high levels of government support. The effect of formalization on channel outcome is stronger when behavioral uncertainty is high than when it is low.

The second paper investigates the role of relational communication (i.e., managerial ties) in dealing with institutional distances. Firms’ operations in foreign markets are subject to multiple regulatory regimes, embedded within multiple normative orders, and influenced by local cultural logics. The pluralistic systems further give rise to organizational legitimacy pressures and the liability of foreignness. Managers then reply through various managerial ties to address the aforementioned challenges. I focus on three sets of managerial ties in my study: political, professional, and business. Their selection is based on contingency theory and determined by their relevance to different institutional logics. The analysis suggests that firms have better performance if they maintain the disparate managerial ties. All three types of managerial ties in my study benefit firms, and they interact with each other to safeguard firms’ legitimacy as well as efficiency. Specifically, business ties bring economic benefits to firms, whereas political ties bring institutional benefits. Professional ties, on the other hand, benefit firms from both institutional and economic perspectives.

    Research areas

  • Communication patterns, formalization, interpersonal influence, explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge, government support, behavioral uncertainty, institutional distances, managerial ties, compliance, performance, efficiency, legitimacy, marketing channels, pharmaceutical industry