A cooperative strategy is very attractive to small- and medium-scale enterprises, but it also involves special risks. There are three major mechanisms for the coordination of transaction relationships: (1) the market mechanism, (2) hierarchical governance and (3) coordination based on self-commitment. These coordination mechanisms are not mutually exclusive. A combination of the elements of hierarchy, market and self-commitment (coordination mix) characterizes any transaction.
The main objective of the project is to empirically identify the most adequate coordination mix for specific types of cooperation in different contexts. For this purpose a database in Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic will be set up using a combination of methods of qualitative and quantitative social science. This empirical data will be used for the following purposes: (1) to test the validity of statements from theoretical cooperation research and (2) to discover new patterns by identifying statistical regularities within the data.
On the basis of newly created differentiated knowledge of the coordination mechnisms functionality and their impact on success, norm strategies can be formulated on how to coordinate each type of cooperation arrangement successfully. These norm strategies will then be translated into directly practicable recommendations for small- and medium-scale enterprises.