1 School of Economics and Management, Faculty of Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University5 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
The vision of new organizational forms consists of less-organized networks and alliances between organizations, in which collaborative capabilities are assumed to be crucial (Miles et al., 2005). The path to such new forms may go through fragile cooperative efforts. Despite the good will of many participants and optimistic plans for cooperation between equals there are still poorly understood barriers, and attempts at interorganizational cooperation may lead to frustration. It is too often assumed that the parties are equally eager, trusting, and dependent or at least have some symmetry in how they meet each other. On the contrary, we assume that asymmetry is both important and normal; moreover, asymmetry should be considered to be more complex than economists indicate with their concept of asymmetric information. Thus, the aim of the paper is to explore how asymmetries related to partners' different motives and different situational factors appear in an interorganizational setting. We classify interfaces according to the symmetry/asymmetry in the respective parent organizations' resources, commitment, and control of representatives and indicate how classification schemes can be used to support better diagnosis and as a starting point for more detailed analysis, including interpersonal and processual perspectives, Furthermore, we propose how different situations need different kinds of change interventions. Although including asymmetries in interorganizational analysis does add more complexity to already complex models, we claim that our approach has practical implications: it offers rather simple diagnostic cues to change agents that are coping with the barriers to management and collaboration among loosely coupled units.