Dr. Laura Poppo, professor of management and Donald and Shirley Clifton Chair in Leadership, earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Nebraska, she was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis, Virginia Tech and the University of Kansas. Known globally as a thought leader for her research in strategy, her research interests include outsourcing, alliances, contracting and trust, vertical integration and psychological judgments and processes in developing relationships. She authored and co-authored numerous book chapters and refereed articles in journals such as the Journal of Management, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of International Business Studies
and Organizational Science
This year, Poppo won the prestigious Strategic Management Journal
Dan and Mary Lou Schendel Best Paper Prize for her work exploring the connection between formal contracts and relational governance. Although historically viewed as substitutes, her research reveals the two functions as complements. Using survey data, Poppo and her co-author demonstrate the necessity of both, as contracts create transparency and formalize expectations and processes. Yet, because contracts are incomplete, trust and norms such as sharing information and a collaborative working relationship are imperative.
“Most companies collaborate to coordinate complex, risky deals. Buzzwords surrounding these deals are ‘alliances,’ ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring.’ As people tend to be self-interested and opportunistic, a desire to make more money at the expense of the other party regularly affects business deals. Our research shows contracts and relationships work together to mitigate detrimental opportunistic behavior and create success for both parties. It proved influential during a time of increasing globalization and business complexity and changed the way people think across many disciplines and theoretical spaces,” Poppo said.