Relationship governance for very different partners: the corporation-nonprofit case

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Organizations increasingly form relationships with partners that have goals, values or operating cultures different to their own. These relationships have significant potential to generate innovative products or services and increase opportunities for service delivery. While they can provide greater access to resources, infrastructure or stakeholders, they can struggle with collaboration. Such partnerships may also encounter differences in the role of governance mechanisms such as trust and commitment. Only limited research however has addressed the governance implications of such relationships. We compared managers' perspectives on relationship governance mechanisms for 267 nonprofits and 276 corporations involved in corporate-nonprofit relationships. We found that ‘fit’ - compatibility and complementarity - was important to performance in such relationships. We found also however that nonprofits valued the role of trust in these relationships significantly more than corporations. Our findings suggest potential for significant success in these types of relationships but also possible complications from differences of opinion as to how they should be governed. While relationships between very different partners can succeed, they should remain cognizant of differences in each partner's expectations for relationship governance and its role in relationship performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Commitment
  • Corporate-nonprofit relationships
  • Crosssector
  • Relationship governance
  • Social alliances
  • Trust

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