Multiple organizations working jointly on shared activities in inter-organizational projects for a defined period of time are used increasingly to coordinate the supply of complex products, subsystems, and services across many industries. Despite the growth in inter-organizational networks as an organizational form, scholars have only recently begun to identify how lead organizations orchestrate the coordination of multiple parties with disparate goals, responsibilities, and capabilities. Prior work offers limited insights into the choice of network governance forms, and how coordination is undertaken by the network orchestrator to govern these networks. We conducted a longitudinal study of four networks to deliver vital services into a large project. We identified how the choice of network governance form was based on task complexity. A shared governance form was chosen for networks developed to deliver routine services, whereas a lead organization governance form was chosen for networks set up to deliver complex services. However, findings showed that the selection of an appropriate governance form was not sufficient for ensuring high performance. The network orchestrator’s mode of coordination (formal or informal), the intensity of coordination (active or passive), and fit with the form of governance form (shared or lead organization governed) was important in driving performance.
- Large projects; inter-organizational networks; network orchestrator; coordination; governance; longitudinal study