Surviving learning races:An analysis of strategic alliance evolutioncapabilities

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This paper is aimed to identify and understand the main dimensions and processes that underlie the capacity ofweaker firms in an initially unbalanced strategic alliance to purposefully channel the fruitful evolution of thealliance by creating, extending or modifying its scope in order to perceive and grasp new value creatingopportunities which they would not be able to seize on their own. We call this capacity an alliance evolutioncapability and intend it as a particular type of dynamic capability of the firm (Teece, Pisano & Schuen, 1997;Helfat et al., 2007). The motivation for this paper is threefold: (1) to understand how weaker firms may survivelearning race alliances (Hamel, 1991) and leverage them to gain increasing benefits; (2) to contribute to thecomprehension of the role of purposeful action for the fruitful evolution of inter-firm alliances and allianceportfolios; and (3) to describe and analyze a specific type of dynamic capability which refers to alliancesthrough a multilevel longitudinal study of firm and inter-firm changes within relatively traditional industries.The empirical analysis focuses on three in depth case studies regarding alliances between large multinational orinternational firms and firms from emerging markets. In sharp contrast to other empirically grounded studies onalliance evolution (Doz, 1996; Arino & De La Torre, 1998), our unit of analysis is the set of projects that areinitiated and developed between two given firms. The unit of analysis chosen differentiates this paper also fromthe other studies conducted regarding the constituent elements of alliance capabilities, which have eitherfocused on the whole portfolio of firm alliances or on single projects (for a review, Schreiner, Kale & Corsten,2009).
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine8
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014


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