Growing evidence of failure amongst outsourcing arrangements has raised concerns about the mechanisms that govern and control inter-organisational networks and alliances. This paper investigates the use of contractual and accounting mechanisms in the governance of inter-organisational relationships. Despite both accounting and contracts forming part of the formal control mechanisms that parties can employ to govern inter-organisational relationships, there has been little research that has simultaneously examined both. The objectives of the paper are two-fold. The first objective of the paper is to re-examine the role of formal controls and specifically, contractual and accounting mechanisms. The second objective is to examine the utilisation of these mechanisms in practice. This is achieved through a content analysis of contracts governing outsourcing relationships in the Australian financial services industry. Thus the paper is exploratory in explicating the mix of formal controls comprising both contractual and accounting control mechanisms that is explicitly stipulated in contractual and supporting documentation.
Publisher version archived with the permission of the publisher Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia. This archived copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to use this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.