A pluralistic perspective to overcome major blind spots in research on interorganizational relationships

Fabrice Lumineau, Nuno Barros De Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)
1040 Downloads (Pure)


Interorganizational relationships have attracted much scholarly attention in the last two decades. Despite the significant advances made in this field, the literature still largely relies on assumptions that overlook core features of interorganizational relationships. We build on the organizational research on pluralism to evaluate and identify opportunities to extend the literature on interorganizational relationships. Drawing on a synthesis of the last 20 years of research (1996–2016) on interorganizational relationships, we discuss four major “blind spots” concerning (1) the assumption of symmetry between parties or the focal party’s perception is taken to reflect the whole relationship (single-party focus), (2) the assumption of uniform relationships between parties (single-valence focus), (3) the assumption of an interorganizational phenomenon within one level of analysis (single-level focus), and (4) the assumption of universal time (focus on a single conceptualization of time). Through an analysis of exemplary studies, we discuss how and when overcoming each of these blind spots provides novel insights to revisit theoretical mechanisms concerning the functioning of interorganizational relationships. We also identify a coherent set of strategies to address each blind spot. We advance the literature by articulating a pluralistic perspective to guide future research into core questions about interorganizational relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-465
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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