• Strategic partnership;
  • success;
  • communication


The formation of partnerships between firms is becoming an increasingly common way for firms to find and maintain competitive advantage. While the antecedents of partnership formation and the characteristics of the resulting cooperative working relationship have been explored in the literature, an understanding of characteristics associated with partnership success is lacking. Such an understanding is important in reconciling the prescriptions to form partnerships with the reality that a majority of such partnerships do not succeed. We hypothesize that partnership attributes, communication behavior, and conflict resolution techniques are related to indicators of partnership success (satisfaction and sales volume in the relationship). The hypotheses are tested with vertical partnerships between manufacturers and dealers. Results indicate that the primary characteristics of partnership success are: partnership attributes of commitment, coordination, and trust; communication quality and participation; and the conflict resolution technique of joint problem solving. The findings offer insight into how to better manage these relationships to ensure success.