Definition of inter organizational relationship

Inter-Organizational Relationships - Journal of Operations Management - Elsevier

definition of inter organizational relationship

History and Application of Interorganizational Relations Theory (IOR). Beginning Stage theory is often used to explain how IORs evolve over time. The design. So what do we mean by 'Inter‐organizational relations'? Inter‐organizational relations, as its subject name suggests, is concerned with relationships between . interorganizational definition: relating to systems, relationships, etc. between two or more different organizations. Learn more.

However there is a definite lack of application of this information when dealing with intergroup conflicts, especially in the area of public policy. Brewer identifies several reasons for this gap between research and practice in reducing intergroup conflicts. There have traditionally been different approaches to researching the processes involved in intergroup conflict.

Research traditions focus on different levels of aggregation, with some focusing on interpersonal processes and others focusing on the group level of analysis. Additionally there are theoretical perspectives that study intergroup conflict with a primary focus on concepts in the cognitive, affective, or behavioral realm.

These different approaches tend to generate literatures that remain isolated, rarely citing research outside their own perspective. While these separate research traditions might use different conceptual frameworks, they do have one thing in common that contributes to a lack of direct participation in the policy arena. Science has a norm of objectivity, and this leads many researchers to avoid advocating for specific action by governments or groups.

Scientific research is seen as producing facts, and the role of the scientist is to produce those facts, not to decide what to do about them. The expert is hesitant to become the advocate.

definition of inter organizational relationship

History may contribute to this feeling, both for the researchers and the policy makers. In the s and s, much social science research specifically the "contact hypothesis" was used as the basis for public policy designed to reduce racial tension and conflict through the integration of schools.

The research outcomes on desegregation were mixed, due in part to an oversimplified application of theoretical ideas that were very specific and conditional in nature.

Additionally, the social science research on which desegregation was in part based was developed in carefully controlled laboratory experimentation. In real-life situations, which are far more chaotic and complex, the mechanisms of the theories might be overwhelmed by other factors, factors the theories were never intended to deal with.

While the research community might be happy to learn from the failure of experiments and to argue about the failure of the assumptions of models to be met, the policy maker sees failure of a program and an increase in conflict among constituents. So the scientists see the politicians as understanding neither the restricted nature of most theories nor the process of the growth of knowledge as including failures.

The policy makers see only that the experts were wrong and that their advice created conflict or a perception of increased conflict when a reduction was expected. While research on desegregation was based on the contact hypothesis and ideas of assimilation, current research is based more on ideas of pluralism and multiculturalism. This perspective focuses on promoting positive in-group attitudes by emphasizing group identities and characteristics, and trying to make these identities respected and recognized by other groups; to be proud of one's own ways while recognizing the pride of other's for their own ways.

This creates some tensions and potential pitfalls when using this branch of theory and research as a basis for public policy.

definition of inter organizational relationship

Much of intergroup theory has focused on and developed from the situation in the United States; however, recently more attention and research have been applied to the problem in other areas of the world. With increasing migration and diversity in western Europe has come a concurrent increase in tension and conflict, and this has generated a surge of research. Pettigrew shows that "despite sharp differences in national histories, political systems, and minorities, this new work reveals considerable consistency across the nations of western Europe.

It also largely replicates and extends, rather than rebuts, the North American literature " p. He shows similarities such as the higher level of "subtle" prejudice compared with "blatant" prejudice. Blatant prejudice is tied to perceived biological differences between groups and is "hot, close and direct" p. Subtle prejudice is tied to the "perceived threat of minority groups to traditional values" p. In addition, the mechanisms of intergroup contact and relative deprivation seem to function in similiar ways in many North American and European populations.

Given the tension between Arabs and Jews in the Middle Eastit should not be surprising that theories of intergroup relations should be tested there in attempts to reduce conflicts. One such study attempted to use the contact between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel that occurred in joint medical teams to mitigate intergroup stereotypes and prejudice Desivilya, The study found that while the contact reduced prejudice in the local work situation, that reduction was not carried into the larger societal context and overall national image and ethnic stereotypes were not changed.

Although we say organizations have goals, what is meant is that much of what organizations actually do seems as if it is directed to a shared objective or set of objectives. The boundary feature simply refers to the distinction that an organization makes between members and nonmembers. Finally, technology refers to the organization's division of labor or to the set of activities that the organization performs as part of its daily routines in processing new materials or people.

Each of these characteristics can be illustrated by the university. Its goals are often set forth, albeit in glowing and idealized terms, in its general catalogue. These typically include teaching, research, and public service. One must apply to become a member of the university—student, faculty or staff. And such statuses are frequently difficult to come by.


The university's technology includes its classrooms and laboratories as well as the lecture and discussion methods of instruction. Interorganizational relations refers to the relations between or among two or more organizations. There have been several overviews of the field of interorganizational relations Aldrich ; Aldrich and Whitten ; Galaskiewicz ; Mulford ; Van de Ven and Ferry Every organization has relationships with other organizations. In the case of the university, if it is to function it must have students, and to recruit them it must have relationships with high schools, junior colleges, and other universities.

These students and faculty and staff must eat, work, and play, so the university has relationships with food, housing, energy, and other suppliers of various kinds in the community.

definition of inter organizational relationship

And, of course, the university needs other resources, especially funds, and therefore must relate to government agencies and alumni to obtain them Clark Organizations are ambivalent about establishing an interorganizational relationship to obtain resources Yuchtman and Seashore On the one hand, they want and need resources if they are to survive; but on the other hand, organizations wish to maintain their autonomy, and insofar as they establish an interorganizational tie, they will be expected to reciprocate, and hence their freedom will be constrained.

It is assumed that organizations want their autonomy from other organizations, but their survival needs induce them to relinquish some autonomy. Galaskiewicz claims that interorganizational relations take place for three major reasons: Interorganizational relations research has been undertaken at three levels: The simplest form of interorganizational relation is the dyad, which simply refers to the relationships of two organizations to each other.

The action set concept developed form Merton's notion of role sets. Caplow and Evan took Merton's idea and applied it to the relationships between a focal organization, such as a university, and its pairwise relationship with other organizations with whom it interacts. One might examine the relationship between a university and the office of the mayor of the city within which it is located, and then study the effects of changes in this relationship as they influence other relationships in the set of organizations Van de Ven and Ferry Aldrich has termed the group of organizations that constitute a temporary alliance for a particular or limited goal the "action set.

Although the approaches of Aldrich and Van de Ven and Ferry are not identical conceptually, both orientations toward networks focus on identifying all connections of specified kinds that take place within a particular organizational population. Hence, the analysis of networks is far more complex than that of action sets or dyads. The body of knowledge in the area of interorganizational relationships is not extensive, and what there is has focused on social services.

There exists quite a bit of theoretical information but very few large databases. With the exception of research on corporate board of directors' interlocks Burt ; Burt et al. An early area of interest to theorists was the general state of the organizational and interorganizational environment.

Aldrich identified six dimensions of environments: Capacity refers to the relative level of resources available in the organization's environment. A rich environment refers to one where resources are plentiful, while a lean environment is the opposite. For example, does a focal organization deal with a relatively uniform and a highly heterogeneous population?

If one contrasted the labor forces that a Japanese and an American firm draw from to recruit, one would find that the Japanese firm confronts a more homogeneous environment than does its American counterpart.

This is, of course, because American workers are much more heterogeneous than are Japanese workers in education, ethnic-racial background, and many other features Cole Again, if Japanese and American firms are compared, we would anticipate greater turnover in the latter than in the former.

The advantage of low turnover or a stable environment is that it permits the organization to develop fixed routines and structures. For example, the RTD is the major bus company in Los Angelesand its potential ridership is dispersed over an area of more than square miles. Such long transportation lanes present major problems, in contrast, for example, with the Santa Monica Bus Company, whose ridership is concentrated in a much smaller and geographically homogeneous area.

Organizations differ in the extent to which their claim to a specific domain is contested or acknowledged by other organizations. Domain consensus refers to a situation wherein an organization's claim to a domain is recognized, while domain dissensus refers to a situation where disagreement exists over the legitimacy of an organization's domain. The final organizational dimension is turbulence. This term refers to the extent to which there are increasing environmental interconnections; the more interconnections, the greater the turbulence.

Areas where many new organizations are emerging are generally areas of greater turbulence. Some factors have been shown to be involved in the dissolution of interorganizational relations.

Institutional forces, power, and competition are factors involved in the stability of these relations Baker et al. Institutional forces reduce the likelihood of ties being broken. Personal relationships and structural attachments such as coordination of accounting methods represent "sunk costs" for the organization.

Forms of Interorganizational Relations

To break ties with one organization and forge them with another takes significant effort and time. Power may increase or decrease the tendency for relations to dissolve. Given a client—provider relation, if the client has high power it increases the likelihood of the relation being broken, while high power for the provider decreases the tendency for the relation to break. Competition tends to destabilize ties between organizations, although the effect of competition is weak relative to power and structural attachments.

Introducing Inter‐organizational Relations - Oxford Handbooks

In situations where there is much competition, there are more opportunities for defection from a relation and more incentive to do so. A great deal of the work on interorganizational relations has concerned delivery systems and stressed coordination Mulford ; Rogers and Whetten This is because a central problem in service delivery involves overcoming the segmentation and fragmentation of services created by the large number of organizations with overlapping responsibilities and jurisdictions.

Bachrach has identified a number of factors that discourage coordination among organizations serving the chronically mentally ill, including budget constraints, lack of a mandate to engage in interorganizational planning, and confusion due to separate funding streams for care.

Other factors also discourage coordination, such as differences in organizational activities and resources; multiple network memberships and consequent conflicting obligations felt by constituent organizations; and a lack of complementary goals and role exceptions Baker and O'Brien Each organization in a delivery system relies on the other organizations in the system, since no single unit can generate all the resources necessary for survival.

Hence, the organization in a system enters into exchanges with other organizations and consumers. It is assumed that each organization or system seeks to better its bargaining position. This perspective on delivery systems as interorganizational networks is generally labeled the resource dependence perspective Pfeffer and Salanick Contingency theory Lawrence and Lorsch assumes that organizational functioning depends on the intertwining of technological and environmental constraints and the structures that emerge to deal with these constraints.

The theory assumes, as does system theory more generally, that there is no single most effective way to organize Katz and Kahnthat the environment within which an organization functions influences the effectiveness of an organization, and that different organizational structures can produce different performance outcomes.

Scott uses systems theory to describe how organizations manage their task environments and their institutional environments, and adapt to their changing organization—environment interdependencies. Scott stresses the differences between technical and institutional environmental controls. Although there is not a great deal of comparative research on interorganizational relations, some comparisons have been done, for example, on the differences in the patterns of relations in Japan and the United States.

Intergroup and Interorganizational Relations |

American companies tend to be connected to more organizations, have a more formalized and more extensive body of rules for the relationship, and exchange more information across the relations than their Japanese counterparts Aldrich et al. Claims such as these must be taken with a degree of caution, as there is a great deal of influence between Japanese and American firms.

For example, Japanese auto assembly plants, which started in the United States, brought both intraorganizational and interorganizational patterns of organization, for example, team-based work groups and "just-intime" delivery of parts needed in product assembly Florida and Kenney Since that time, these organizational characteristics have become more common in the United States, and this increasing interdependence and connection between organizations can be seen in the impact of labor disputes extending through the economy at an increasingly rapid rate.

A strike at a parts production facility that makes transmissions can shut down numerous auto production plants in a few days. A strike at Federal Express or United Parcel Service leads to economic impacts nation- and world wide literally overnight.

This globalization of economic relations mirrors a globalization of international relations. Both on an ongoing basis e. Institutional and Organizational Influences. Making the Most of Simplicity. Faulkner, and Gene A. Prominently among these questions might figure the following: And if so, are concepts such as co-operative, competitive, conflict-ridden, legitimizing, or recognition-promoting instructive in this matter? Moreover in this context, under what conditions does a specific form of inter-organizational relations emerge, and how is this form reproduced or transformed in the course of time?

What kinds of contributions to world order are made by inter-organizational relations, and how do they take place? Which kinds of inter-organizational relations weaken or strengthen the meaning and power of certain ideas with relevance for world politics and world order such as peace, security, human rights, sovereignty, or the maximization of profits? In diligently elaborating on this agenda of questions students of inter-organizational relations might be on the right track to successfully establish this still rather novel branch of research as far as politics and order beyond states is concerned as an accepted and widely acknowledged academic activity.

Besides, they will surely contribute to the transformation of International Relations in this way — a transformation to a discipline which more adequately will be termed World Politics Research or similar.

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