To read this content please select one of the options below:

Asymmetry, heterogeneity and inter‐firm relationships: Organizing the theoretical landscape

Andrew Papadopoulos (HEC Montréal Management, Montréal, Canada)
Yan Cimon (Faculty of Business Administration and Institut québécois des hautes études internationals, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada)
Louis Hébert (HEC Montréal Management, Montréal, Canada)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to organize the theoretical landscape surrounding explanations of the impact asymmetry and heterogeneity on inter‐firm relationships, especially alliances.


A conceptual framework integrating the resource‐based view, transaction cost economics and industrial organization is put forth to better understand asymmetry and heterogeneity in alliances.


It is argued that low asymmetry and low heterogeneity are best addressed from an industrial organization perspective. Transaction cost economics best explains alliances in high asymmetry and low heterogeneity situations while the resource‐based view is most appropriate for high heterogeneity and low asymmetry alliances. In the case of high asymmetry and high heterogeneity, the tension between the resource‐based view and transaction costs economics is reconciled.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers gain an original re‐framing of the theoretical landscape that will assist in generating new insights for future theory development.

Practical implications

The paper lays the ground for new research directions while leaving practitioners with a better understanding of the lenses through which they should examine their firms' cooperative endeavours.


Previous literature seldom addressed the categorization of various theoretical approaches along the notions of asymmetry and heterogeneity in inter‐firm relationships.



Papadopoulos, A., Cimon, Y. and Hébert, L. (2008), "Asymmetry, heterogeneity and inter‐firm relationships: Organizing the theoretical landscape", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 16 No. 1/2, pp. 152-165.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles