This paper uses the method of scientometrics and the traditional literature review to search, select and conclude 1 567 English articles, and makes a visual analysis. Through this way, the paper makes an in-depth study about the articles which have the high frequency keywords co-occurrence, analyzes the evolution of flexible contract, and then reveals the distribution, frontier hot spot and development trend of the flexible contract theory. Three existing core issues are summarized systematically, which include the intrinsic reasons for the existence of flexible contract, the structure of contractual flexibility and influencing factors, and the construction of contractual flexibility. And through the analysis of the driving factors of flexible contract, this paper profoundly expounds the connotation of contractual flexiblility, and emphasizes the negative impact of excessive flexiblility based on its value for rigid contract and practice. On this basis, the paper elaborates the process contract of formal contract/contract flexibility under the narrow perspective and the contracting process under the broad perspective. Meanwhile, the influencing factors of contractual flexibility are analyzed from three aspects: transaction subject, transaction relation, and internal and external environment. From the risk-sharing perspective and incentive perspective, this paper analyzes the outcomes of contractual flexibility, and then makes a scientific analysis of the structural and influencial factors of contractual flexibility. Through the above analysis about the contract flexible theory, we discuss the core issue—the building of flexible contract, and point out three aspects of this research field: staff employment contract in the field of human resource management, procurement/supply contract in the field of supply chain management, and project contract in the field of engineering management. The purpose of flexible contract for employment contract is to realize the flexible design of employment contract, which could motivate employees and stabilize staff members. And the supply/procurement contractual flexibility take pricing flexibility and purchase contract quantity flexibility as the core, and explore the design problem of the contract through quantitative models, such as option pricing, quantity model and experimental way. For the flexibility of project contract, it focuses on the software outsourcing project and construction project field, and discusses the construction approach of project contract flexibility. Finally, based on the analysis of existing research shortages, the paper sums up the research results, and puts forward future research directions of flexible contract, such as further and in-depth development of the connotation, soft state and measurement of flexible contract; further study about the application situation, especially the trust culture situation; and the comprehensive and systematical analysis of influencing factors. It also needs to change the research perspective for the exploration of contractual flexibility functions, and turn the attention to the post-event efficiency from the front-end value of flexible contract in the cooperative project. Future research trends indicate that it is of great theoretical and practical significance to further deepen and expand the research of contract flexibility.
Core Issues and Future Trends of Contractual Flexibility
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 41, Issue 01, pp. 73 - 85 (2019) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2019.01.006
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Cite this article
Zhang Jinlan, Song Haoyang, Zhu Fangwei, et al. Core Issues and Future Trends of Contractual Flexibility[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2019, 41(1): 73-85.