Moral hazards on the road to the "virtual" corporation

Thomas M. Jones, Norman E. Bowie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


In recent years, two topics have made prominent debuts in the management literature - "virtual" corporations and trust within and among organizations. These two themes are related in that trust is important to the success of the virtual corporation. This article argues that confidence in the development of virtual corporations may be premature because of what we call the Virtual Corporation Paradox. This paradox can be succinctly stated: the short-term, transient deal-making on which the efficiency of the virtual corporation rests greatly impedes the development of the mutually trusting and cooperative relationships on which its success depends. We examine both economic and sociological explanations for the emergence of trust in similar situations and find both deficient. We conclude that the success of virtual corporations will ultimately depend on an ethics-based form of corporate "character" that allows firms to develop trusting relationships without the usual safeguards or social norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-292
Number of pages20
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes


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