The role of boundary-spanning agents in inter-organizational contracting

Mick Marchington, Steven Vincent, Fang Lee Cooke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter examines the role that boundary-spanning agents play in the creation and maintenance of inter-organizational relations. Boundaryspanning agents are the people who are formally and informally responsible for maintaining the contract over time, and who interact with their opposite numbers in the client or supplier organization. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 6.2 reviews the nature and meaning of trust in the context of the work of boundary-spanners. Section 6.3 introduces the case studies that form the basis of the chapter as well as providing data on the types of people who fill the roles of boundary-spanning agents. The following two sections contain the bulk of the empirical data, and analyse the way in which boundary-spanners see (a) the development of close trusting relations with their counterparts in other organizations as critical for contracting to be effective (for their own organization); and (b) the maintenance of formality and distance as important to ensure that their own organization limits the risks and maximizes the advantages to be achieved from inter-organizational relations. Finally, the chapter discusses the implications of these findings for further research on the role of boundary-spanning agents.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFragmenting Work: Blurring Organizational Boundaries and Disordering Hierarchies
EditorsMick Marchington, Damian Grimshaw, Jill Rubery, Hugh Willmott
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780191698859
ISBN (Print)9780199262236, 9780199262243
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Client organization
  • Close trusting relations
  • Contracting
  • Supplier organization

Cite this