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A strategic conflict analysis in IT outsourcing using the graph model for conflict resolution

Maisa Mendonça Silva (Department of Management Engineering, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil)
Thiago Poleto (Department of Business Administration, Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, Brazil)
Ana Paula Henriques de Gusmão (Department of Management Engineering, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Aracaju, Brazil)
Ana Paula Cabral Seixas Costa (Department of Management Engineering, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 20 April 2020

Issue publication date: 7 December 2020



The purpose of this paper is to propose a strategic conflict analysis, based on the graph model for conflict resolution (GMCR), that is applied to information technology outsourcing (ITO) in a real-world software development and implementation process in Brazil.


Because the idea of this study is to answer “why” the ITO conflicts occur and “how” they can be avoided, the case study methodology was adopted. The software GMCR II was used to analyze the interactions between an IT vendor and an IT client.


The results suggest that a lack of relational governance is a critical issue that could be handled to improve the interaction between those involved.

Research limitations/implications

The main results are restricted to the case study and cannot be generalized. Moreover, a specific limitation of this paper pertains to the use of the GMCR and the consequent difficulty for IT vendors and IT clients to work with a large number of actions and to set preferences for several states of conflict.

Practical implications

The strategic analysis of outsourcing conflicts provides a holistic view of the current situation that may assist the client and vendor in future decisions and identify guidelines to ensure successful ITO. Therefore, this paper provides an effective guide for clients and vendors to better manage conflicts and establish a contingency vision to avoid such disputes.


The ITO conflict is analyzed using the GMCR, considering both perspectives of the outsourcing process (vendors and clients).



The authors are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers who supplied helpful suggestions. This research was supported by the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco and GPSID – The Decision and Information Systems Research Group. The authors would like to acknowledge National Council for the Improvement of Higher Education (PNPD/CAPES)-PPGEP-CAA, CAPES – a foundation affiliated with the Ministry of Education in Brazil, and the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq) – Process numbers 305792/2017-2 and 307344/2017-7 for their financial support. Finally, the authors would like to thank the Conflict Analysis Group at the University of Waterloo in Canada for the GMCR II software license.


Silva, M.M., Poleto, T., de Gusmão, A.P.H. and Costa, A.P.C.S. (2020), "A strategic conflict analysis in IT outsourcing using the graph model for conflict resolution", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 1581-1598.



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