Transaction Cost Economics and Industry Maturity in It Outsourcing: A Meta-Analysis of Contract Type Choice

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



European Conference on Information Systems


Recent reviews of the information technology outsourcing (ITO) literature report high variance in research results when Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) is used as the analytical framework. Informed by ITO market developments, including increasing commoditisation, market consolidation, and market transparency, we develop an explanation for these mixed results contingent on ITO industry maturity. We adopt meta-analysis to show that ITO industry maturity significantly explains variance in the choice of contract type (time and materials vs. fixed price) in ITO projects. Our results suggest that TCE is relevant to explain the choice of contract type in the emerging phase of the ITO industry, but not in its current mature phase. We conclude that a TCE-based analytical framework is not well suited for the study of ITO in the current mature industry phase. Instead, we propose that an “endogenous” ITO theory should be developed that focuses on differences in client behaviourrather than vendor behaviour.