Today, firms pursuing a pioneering strategy are often engaged in supply chain relationships to benefit from external resources and to improve their innovation. However, this effort can be impeded by power asymmetries in such relationships and especially by the execution of coercive power by their partner firm. Contracts could potentially reduce this risk of opportunistic behavior. Our survey study on 778 small to medium-sized enterprises in the European packaging and medical equipment industries examines how coercive power of the partner and the contractual arrangement between firms moderate the pioneering strategy’s innovation outcomes in the short and long run. Our results confirm the negative effect of coercive power on innovation performance in both the short and long term. However, the compensating effect of rather complete contracts differs temporally. Whereas, contract completeness protects against higher dependence at the beginning of the collaboration, their effect diminishes over time. In contrast, rather incomplete contracts enhance the innovation performance in the long term, possibly complemented with trust.


Bouncken, R., Ratzmann, M., Tiberius, V., & Brem, A. (2020): Pioneering strategy in supply chain relationships: how coercive power and contract completeness influence innovation, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, doi:10.1109/TEM.2020.3019965.