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The cost management and control of inter-organisational relationships: a case from the Greek shipping industry

By Loukas G. Glyptis


Inter-organisational cost management and control (IOCM and control) is generally defined as a means whereby independent organisations protect their interests and coordinate resources to create value from their inter-organisational relationships (IORs). While research in IOCM and control has been informed by a variety of theoretical perspectives, there is little which has employed structuration theory (examples are Free, 2008; Seal et al., 2004; Sydow & Windeler, 1998). Here, it is argued that Rob Stones’ recent work is a development of the theory which shows good promise for research in this area. A field study at a Greek shipping organisation reveals the processes and dynamics of IOCM and control in practice. Despite public proclamations of long-term relationships with suppliers and buyers, the research uncovered a network of asymmetrically dependent relationships, which produced and reproduced predominantly arm’s-length practices. Distrust and paternalism within the organisation spilled over to the management of its inter-organisational domain, while the structural influences of environmental institutions reinforced organisational agents’ perspectives of IOCM and control and limited consideration of alternatives. Finally, this study argues that the notion of multiple and overlapping social systems as well as of learning and change can emphasise a role for certain theoretical constructs to implicate the skilful deployment of resources, which is central to economic phenomena. Such constructs refer to dialectics of control, path dependency, isomorphism, contradiction and praxis. It is proposed that future research in IOCM and control employing Stones’ version of structuration, would benefit from explicit use of these constructs

Topics: HF Commerce, HG Finance, HE Transportation and Communications
Year: 2010
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