Relationship learning is a topic of considerable importance for industrial networks, yet a lack of empirical research on the impact of relationship governance structures on relationship learning remains. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the impact of relationship governance structures on learning in partnerships.
This paper contributes to the closure of the research gap by examining sample data drawn from 42 interviews on the subject of 199 customer‐supplier relationships within the Finnish metal and electronics industries. As a method, the paper applies cluster analysis and analysis of variance mean‐comparison.
The results of this paper show that balanced hybrid governance structures explain learning in partnerships, which suggests that certain combinations of relationship governance mechanisms (price, hierarchical, and social mechanism) produce the best learning outcomes in partnerships. Results suggest that managers should use hybrid relationship governance structures when governing their supplier partnerships.
The paper has some limitations such as limited sample size, cross‐sectional data, and difficulties due to measuring social phenomenon such as learning. Owing to the interview method being applied, research is bound to apply a sample data drawn from companies that operate in the west coast in Finland. These limitations need to be considered when applying the results.
The results encourage managers to use different governance mechanisms simultaneously when managing their company's supply chain partnerships. The result emphasizes the role of active relationship management.
The paper is one of the first to empirically show that relationship learning is best facilitated by using various relationship governance mechanisms simultaneously. Trust needs to be complemented by hierarchical and possibly by price mechanism.
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