Formal and relational contracts between organizations: proposal of a model for analysis of the transactional and governance structure characteristics of comparative cases

Abstract The literature indicates that the use of formal and relational governance structures have a fundamental role in the conduct and maintenance of inter-organizational relationships. Nevertheless, there are possibilities for discussions about the composition and function of these structures in the presence of different transactional characteristics. Thus, a model based on the literatures of formal contracts, inter-organizational relationships, Relational Contract Theory, and Transaction Cost Economics is proposed. Since this is a qualitative exploratory research, six structured interviews were carried out and interpreted by means of Content Analysis for case comparison and discussion of theoretical propositions. It was observed that some transactional characteristics, when present with greater intensity in the context of a transaction, tend to corroborate the theoretical propositions of formal contractual function, demonstrating that the intensity of these characteristics is a relevant factor for analyzing the adequacy of governance structures. Likewise, the use of different relational norms presents variations within each characteristic analyzed. Other aspects explored in the Content Analysis are suggested in the composition of the analysis model. The propositions explored regarding the composition of the transaction context and the complementarity of governance structure of inter-organizational relationships are also discussed.