Peter Smith Ring, Strategic Management professor at the College of Business Administration, recently saw four years of work in this area of scholarship come to fruition with the publication of The Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations.
The way in which the world does business is rapidly changing and there is an explosion of interest in learning how new cooperative forms of action between companies can be introduced and managed. Peter Smith Ring, Strategic Management professor at the College of Business Administration, recently saw four years of work in this area of scholarship come to fruition with the publication of The Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations. The book, published by Oxford University Press and edited by Ring and three other scholars (Steve Cropper, Mark Ebers, and Chris Huxham), offers a structured overview of the evolving field of “inter-organizational relations”— a field that focuses on the origins, rationale, character, and consequences of collaborative relationships among and between business firms, public sector agencies, not-for profits, and / or non-governmental organizations.
“Increasingly collaborations are taking place across different sectors of the economy,” Ring said. “Because problems organizations face are becoming more complex globally, a single organization can’t do everything itself and must work with others in order to survive.”
While the handbook’s primary audience is the academic community, it also contains chapters that managers who have to coordinate business alliances will find highly useful. Inter-Organizational Relations offers a wealth of information for business professionals to help improve their companies’ competitiveness and profitability in the global market. Through their research, Ring and his colleagues have concluded that there is a need for more comparative analysis of organizational collaboration in different cultures and especially a greater integration of the research findings from a wide range of different academic disciplines. They also identified holes in the existing literature, including a lack of significant attention to “identity” questions in research on organizational collaboration.
“While organizational behavior scholars tell us that identity matters, few actually write about it,” Ring said. “For example, people in business firms collaborate with public sector agencies and work together on a group project. We want to know how people in the separate organizations see themselves. Who do they belong to – their own group or the collaboration? How do they arrive at notion of what is acceptable behavior for the collaboration as a whole? How they define themselves tells us how they work.”
Because Inter-Organizational Relations includes research summaries from a number of related disciplines – such as economics, psychology, sociology, and political science, as well as business management – their overlapping findings serve to stimulate greater efforts at organizational collaboration in the future. Since the little research conducted so far on cross-sector collaboration mainly has focused on western firms, incorporating cultural comparisons can help to simplify the way organizations work with each other in the face of changing competitive environments, regulatory and statutory changes in other places around the world such as Africa, Latin America, and the Far East.
Ring and his associates have already given a number of presentations and will follow up with a series of journal articles regarding the expanding prospects and challenges of cooperation and collaboration for organizational managers in an increasingly complex, global economy.