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Keywords:

  • alliance management capability;
  • alliance capability;
  • alliance management know-how

Abstract

Strategy scholars have asserted that a firm's alliance capability provides competitive advantage. As interest in alliance capability has grown, we see two streams of research emerge that address different, but equally important, issues related to this subject: one stream that focuses on how alliance capability develops in firms, and a second stream that investigates what elements specifically constitute a firm's alliance capability. In recent literature, the question of how firms develop alliance capability has received greater attention than the question of what elements actually comprise it; therefore, in this study we address the latter issue in great depth. We do this by building on prior research and on our fieldwork, to conceptualize alliance management capability as a multidimensional construct that comprises three distinct but related aspects or skills to address the following aspects in managing a given individual alliance after it is up and running: coordination, communication, and bonding. We then test our conceptualization in a framework that also links this capability to relevant outcomes at the alliance and firm level. We use survey and secondary data from a large sample of interfirm relationships between software service providers and three major global software vendors. We find general empirical support for our conceptualization of alliance management capability and for its predictive validity in impacting certain alliance outcomes. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.