Call for Papers: Special Issue on Inter-Organizational Governance Flexibility

Guest Editors: 
Maurya Dayashankar, International University of Japan 
Amit Srivastava, T A Pai Management Institute, India 
Jay Rajasekera, Tokyo International University, Japan

Proposed Special Issue and Outline of the Topics: Flexibility is one of the most important management paradigms (Sethi & Sethi, 1990; Sanchez, 1995; De Toni & Tonchia, 1998; Sharma & Sushil, 2000; Sushil & Jain, 2010; Dhir & Sushil, 2019). Its importance is discussed and demonstrated in several organizational contexts such as operational flexibility (Slack, 2005; Tang & Tikoo, 1999; Lummus, Duclos & Vokurka, 2003), human resource flexibility (Ketkar & Sett, 2009; Way, et al. 2015), marketing flexibility (Lummus, et al., 2003; Fredriksson & Gadde, 2005), system flexibility (Sushuil, 2000; Gorod et al., 2008; Dubey & Ali, 2014); strategic flexibility (Brozovic, 2018; Zhou & Wu, 2010; Roberts & Stockport, 2009; Sushil, 2015), etc. However, the flexibility in inter-organizational context is almost neglected. At the same time, the inter-organizational collaboration has been exploding as an approach to capture value in contrast to market or hierarchical approach of managing the firm (Gulati et al. 2000; Whipple & Frankel, 2000; Wuyts & Dutta, 2014). Effective governance of inter-organizational collaboration is considered as as one of the most critical determinants of creating value (Reuer et al., 2016; Lee et al., 2015). The literature in both public (Howlett & Ramesh 2016), as well as business context (Prashant & Harbir 2009), have underlined the criticality of governance flexibility. However, still, both conceptual and empirical development in this area is lacking (Cao & Lumineu 2015).

Given flexibility and flexible systems as the main theme of the journal, this special issue focuses on inter-organizational governance flexibility. Inter-organizational governance refers to means through which actors manage the flow of resources between organizations (Cropper et al., 2008; Huxham et al., 2008). Doz & Hamel (1998) underscored that the success of alliances depends more on managing the alliance relationship over time than crafting the initial formal design. However, managing relationships is not a one-shot activity; rather, it happens as the alliance evolves (Huber 2013; Maurya & Srivastava, 2020), and partners adapt governance mechanisms. This journey of governance adaptation requires partner organizations to have governance flexibility. Though flexibility, in general, has been defined extensively in other contexts, the extant literature is sparse and limited on governance flexibility. For the purpose of this special issue, we define governance flexibility as follows. Governance flexibility involves the array of choice of governance forms, mechanisms, and tools that an organization can deploy to manage relationships with another organization. Flexibility in governance forms refers to the ease with which an organization chooses different governance arrangements such as alliance, partnership, contract, network, or coordination with the other organization (Williamson 2000). Flexibility of governance mechanisms refers to the ease with which an organization can choose between types of governance mechanisms - the extent of contractual (Lumineau & Malhotra, 2011; Reuer & Ariño, 2007) or relational mechanisms (Pearce, 2001; Thuy & Quang, 2005) to manage the relationship. Flexibility of governance tools refers to the ease with which an organization can choose between various governance tools such as contract, incentive, penalty, monitoring, etc. The flexibility of governance forms, mechanisms, and tools can be observed in different contexts of business to business relationships (B2B), ranging from equity-based strategic alliances (e.g., joint venture) to contractual collaboration in the supply chain. The business to government (B2G) context may observe governance flexibility in public procurement from private agencies to public-private partnerships in the infrastructure and service sectors. The business to not for profit (B2N) context is one of the  emerging areas where the private players are collaborating with the not-for-profit organizations to deliver the public value. The implementation of the ‘corporate social responsibility’ projects is one fine example of such a context.

We invite theoretical, conceptual, empirical as well as review articles on the theme of governance flexibility between organizations. This call for paper tries to explore the discussion on inter-organizational governance in business-to-business (B2B); business to government (B2G); business-to-NGO (B2N), and business to community (B2C) context. The papers are open from different levels of governance system - from firms, inter-organizational level, commune level (self-organization systems), network-level (startup ecosystem, smart cities development), and public administration. Some of the  sub-themes that the special issue is open to exploring are:

Determinants of Governance flexibility: The nature of the transaction determines the governance needs, and consequently, organizations choose the type of governance forms, mechanisms, and tools to meet the governance needs (Maurya and Srivastava Forthcoming). However, the flexibility to choose different governance forms, mechanisms, and tools by an organization may be determined by factors other than the nature of transaction. The research questions related to this sub-theme, but not limited to are

•    What determines the choice of governance forms in the given context?
•    How institutional logic determines governance flexibility related to governance forms and governance mechanisms?
•    How technology plays a role in determining governance flexibility related to governance forms and governance mechanisms?
•    How environmental conditions, such as the COVID-19 crisis, have influenced governance flexibility?

Role of institutions in governance flexibility:  Institutions , both formal and informal, play a significant role in shaping not only the structural arrangements of the inter-organizational relationship but also facilitate or constrain deployment of governance mechanisms and tools (Maurya and Srivastava 2019a). The research questions related to institutions include, but not limited to:
•    How meta-governance rules influence governance flexibility?
•    How organizational policies and rules influence governance flexibility? 
•    How informal institutions influence governance flexibility?
•    How partner organizations cope in the context of institutional voids?

Inter-organizational context and governance flexibility: It is found that with the variations in the context, the complexity of inter-organizational governance changes significantly. There are four major inter-organizational contextual settings to explore governance flexibility - business-to-business (B2B); business to government (B2G); business-to- NGO (B2N; business to community (B2C) and Government to Government (G2G) or inter-governmental context. The research questions related to the inter-organizational structure include, but not limited to:
•    What are some of the B2B, B2G, B2N, and B2C contextual factors that determine  flexibility in governance forms? Do some contexts prefer specific governance forms such as contracting compared to others?
•    What are the context-specific factors that determine  flexibility in governance mechanisms? Do some settings demand specific governance mechanisms such as contracts or incentives over others?
•    How contextual factors shape the pattern of evolution of governance design deployed by the partner organizations? 

Governance flexibility and Performance: Literature on inter-organizational governance is still stuck with governance design and choice of governance tools and the relationship between governance tools (Maurya & Srivastava 2019b). We still do not know about flexibility in choosing governance tools as a governance capability and its influence on performance (Griffith & Mayers 2005; Tangpong et al., 2010).  How the ability of the organizations to choose different governance tools with different alliance partners influences performance. The research questions include but not limited to:

•    How governance flexibility contributes to governance effectiveness? For example, do more contractual changes are associated with higher performance?
•    How is governance flexibility abused by partner organizations? For example, to what extent contract re-negotiation clauses reduce the benefit of having governance flexibility?

Governance costs, flexibility, and opportunism: All governance forms, mechanisms, and tools involve costs in terms of designing, deploying, and enforcement. The purpose of all governance forms, mechanisms, and tools is to control opportunism (Williamson 1985). Therefore, organizations may tend to tolerate opportunism if the governance cost of controlling opportunism is more than the value derived from it. The governance flexibility, may increase the cost of governing relationships as it requires wider availability of governance forms, mechanisms, and tools. But, with higher governance flexibility, the organization will be better able to manage and control partner opportunism. Therefore, governance flexibility has a cost as well as benefit. 

•    How governance cost constraints or limits governance flexibility? Which governance forms mechanisms and tools have higher governance cost compared to others?
•    How does the threat of opportunistic behavior influence governance flexibility? Do organizations in situations/ contexts with a high risk of opportunistic behaviors have more governance flexibility? 

Important dates
•    Submission of Full Papers: March 15, 2021
•    Expected Publication: January 2022

For more details and clarification, authors may reach out to guest editors – Dayashankar Maurya <> or Amit Srivastava <>.

Format of contribution: The format of research papers and ethical standards should comply with the styles of Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management at (  

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