abstract  Exporting relationships between manufacturers and foreign importers pose unique coordination problems because, on the one hand, transactions are recurrent and both firms make non-trivial relationship-specific investments, but at the same time, the exchange partners maintain separate legal entities with individual profit claims. This study examines the role of contracts as a governance mechanism in these relationships that are neither market-based discrete transactions, nor can be governed through ownership-based hierarchies. Drawing upon recent research on contract law and interorganizational relationships, we develop and empirically test a model that incorporates both the antecedents and performance implications of the nature of contract governing exporter–importer relationships.