An Integrated Power and Efficiency Model of Contractual Channel Governance: Theory and Empirical Evidence

Stephen J. Carson, Mrinal Ghosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Power theories (e.g., social exchange theory, resource dependence theory) and efficiency theories (e.g., transaction cost analysis) offer very different perspectives on the design of contractual governance in marketing channels. Whereas power theory suggests that governance will reflect the preferences of powerful firms, efficiency theories argue that governance will maximize joint value. In this research, the authors provide an integrative framework that reconciles power and efficiency perspectives in the context of contractual marketing channel relationships. This framework discriminates between two methods of exercising power: ex ante (through a tightly specified, efficient contract that rewards the powerful firm through the price mechanism while providing strong safeguards for the weak firm) or ex post (through a loosely specified, inefficient contract that allows the powerful firm to exploit its power during renegotiations). The authors argue that power will cause channel governance to deviate from the efficient choice, but only to the extent that the powerful firm cannot price out (i.e., extract) the value it offers to the weaker firm ex ante. As exchange conditions become more uncertain, power will demonstrate stronger effects on governance. This theory is supported with data from studies on contractual research-and-development relationships and procurement contracts for customized industrial products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-120
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of marketing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • contracting
  • efficiency
  • governance
  • marketing channels
  • power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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