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Who We Are and How We Govern: The Effect of Identity Orientation on Governance Choice

Who We Are and How We Govern: The Effect of Identity Orientation on Governance Choice

Jan B. Heide, Simon J. Bell and Paul Tracey

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

Our key insight is the introduction of the notion of an identity orientation to the marketing literature. Specifically, we suggest how the orientation that a firm brings to a relationship with a value chain partner impacts its choice of governance mechanisms. As such, we offer an expanded perspective of interfirm governance.

Heide, Bell & Tracey (2022).pptx from American Marketing Association | Journals

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Related Marketing Courses:
Marketing Management; Marketing Strategy; Marketing Channels; Supply Chain Management.

Full Citation:
Heide, Jan B., Simon J. Bell, and Paul Tracey (2022), “Who We Are and How We Govern: The Effect of Identity Orientation on Governance Choice” Journal of Marketing.

Article Abstract:
We draw on emerging research in organization theory to suggest how different firm-level identity orientations (individualistic, relational, or collectivistic) impact governance choice. We develop a conceptual framework which focuses on the relationship between a focal firm’s own identity orientation and that of a value chain partner. The framework identifies a series of match and mismatch scenarios, where the latter represent unique governance problems that are not accounted for by existing theory. Some of the mismatch scenarios involve pseudo-matches which resemble convergent orientations between parties, but which actually represent governance problems. Theoretically, our framework advances the governance literature by providing a comprehensive and nuanced account of (1) the orientations that parties bring to bear on a relationship, and (2) how their effects vary depending on the interdependence structure between the parties. We also advance the general literature on identity orientation by connecting it to concrete governance practices, by showing how multiple internal identity orientations create unique internal governance challenges, and by delineating two possible solutions to these challenges. We rely on the framework to develop managerial guidelines for governance choice.


Special thanks to Demi Oba, Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, for support in working with authors on submissions to this program.

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Jan B. Heide is Irwin Maier Chair in Marketing, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia; and Fellow in Marketing, University of Cambridge, UK.

Simon J. Bell is Professor of Marketing, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Paul Tracey is Professor of Innovation & Organisation, University of Cambridge, UK.