Digitalizing interorganizational relationships: How technology-induced transparency and digital mediation shape collaborative dynamics

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Research units


In this doctoral dissertation, I explore how the use of relationship-specific digital trace data for the optimization of interorganizational processes affects collaborative dynamics. In a multiple case study of seven interorganizational relationships, I show how digital real-time data technologies at interfirm boundaries create operational transparency. This transparency facilitates the coordination and control of increasingly complex digitally mediated interorganizational tasks. Through three essays, I contribute to strategic management and organization theory. First, I describe how digital real-time data technologies ease interorganizational coordination and control. I then theorize broader effects on the structures and dynamics of collaborative relationships. In the first essay, I situate the empirical phenomenon of interorganizational big data technologies theoretically within the academic discourse by conceptualizing technological embeddedness as a characteristic of interfirm relationships. I argue that greater technological embeddedness augments collaboration processes through richer data flows, which enable better coordination and control between partners. A digital organizational infrastructure, technological embeddedness is a precondition for the observations I discuss in my two empirical essays. In the second essay, I empirically analyze how organizations can use interorganizational big data technologies to manage collaborative tensions. I find that these technologies create what I term orthodox spaces, a data-based organizational design that leverages managers' data-driven mindset and technologically embeds specific interorganizational processes. This channels managers' attention to a subset of collaborative goals and thereby suspends tensions at the process level. In the third essay, I empirically explore how the varying types of operational transparency that the introduction of interorganizational big data technologies brings affect the development of interorganizational trust. I find that these technologies leverage managers' attitude for transparency, which privileges trust in numbers over trust in relationships. Organizations use technology-induced transparency initially as coordinative control, but over time start using it as monitoring control, thus modifying the composition and development of interorganizational trust.


Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8782-5
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8783-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

    Research areas

  • big data technologies, digital transformation, transparency, technological embeddedness, interorganizational tensions, interorganizational trust

ID: 38797294