Governing Collaborative New Product Development: Toward a Configurational Perspective on the Role of Contracts

Erwin Hofman*, Dries Faems, Stephanie C. Schleimer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This study inductively explores the interplay among different contractual functions and their impact on project performance in collaborative new product development (NPD) projects. Applying a configurational perspective, contracts are conceptualized as bundles of different functions. In line with the notion of discriminating alignment, an explicit distinction is made between different contextual settings in terms of innovation objectives (i.e., incremental versus radical) and relational embeddedness (i.e., presence versus absence of prior collaboration) in the exploration of the project performance implications of different contractual configurations. Fuzzy set qualitative comparative analyses on a sample of 125 collaborative NPD projects helped to generate propositions on the interplay between different contractual functions across different contextual settings. The results indicate that the contractual coordination function is an important function in achieving high project performance in collaborative NPD projects. However, the research findings demonstrate that it is not a sufficient condition and needs to be complemented with discrete safeguarding functions depending on the particular context. Together, these findings provide new insights into how particular combinations of contractual functions can help address the core governance challenges of collaborative NPD. They also point to the relevance of applying a configurational perspective to the study of the role of contracts in management research. Finally, they provide practitioners with specific recommendations concerning the design of contracts for collaborative NPD projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-756
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of product innovation management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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