Resource dependence theory: A review

Amy Hillman, Michael C. Withers, Brian J. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1316 Scopus citations


Thirty years have passed since Pfeffer and Salancik's seminal work on resource dependence theory (RDT). During this time RDT has been applied broadly across the research domain to explain how organizations reduce environmental interdependence and uncertainty. In this review, the authors assess the conceptual development, empirical research, and application of RDT. They structure their review around the five options that Pfeffer and Salancik propose firms can enact to minimize environmental dependences: (a) mergers/vertical integration, (b) joint ventures and other interorganizational relationships, (c) boards of directors, (d) political action, and (e) executive succession.The authors summarize past work, synthesize contemporary thought, and propose future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1404-1427
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Boards of directors
  • Firm linkages
  • Resource dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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