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About this book

Strategic alliances have emerged as an important element of firms' strategies. Following suit, research on alliances has blossomed, concentrating on the various forms alliances take, the reasons of their existence, and increasingly embracing questions of alliance management and governance tasks. However, most contributions which address the alliance governance problem are yet rather vague and selective in their conception of alliance governance structures as well as the factors which influence their suitability. The aim of this book is to further advance our understanding of alliance governance and to provide recommendations on the problem of alliance governance design. Following the configurational approach, Sascha Albers develops a comprehensive model of alliance governance systems. He identifies relevant structural and instrumental design parameters and analyzes major contingency factors, including member firms' cultures and alliance experience, number of alliance partners, and trust, which impact the design parameters' suitability. He finally deducts five configurations, or ideal types, of alliance governance systems which can be regarded as blueprints for the practitioner and as platform for further research for the alliance scholar.
Potential readership includes scholars of strategic management and organization theory, interested students in these areas as well as practitioners involved in formulating and implementing alliance strategies.

Table of Contents



Interfirm alliances are still en vogue. In times of globalization and ever increasing speed of technical development, interfirm cooperation is regarded as essential for companies to survive in the market place. The continuously growing amount of alliance literature and the empirically observed steady rising number of alliances go hand in hand. However, as the number of alliances increases, so do the cases in which alliances fail.
Sascha Albers

Considering Cooperation and Alliances

Legions of literature have treated aspects of interfirm cooperation and alliances and have diffusely used and defined the terms in question by using a multitude of different theories or empirical cases. A clarification of terms and concepts used in the subsequent analysis is therefore considered necessary and helpful and will thus precede the detailed elaboration on governance systems in an interorganizational setting. The starting point will therefore be the definition of the concept of cooperation in general for then applying it on the field in focus, the business environment.
Sascha Albers

The Governance of Collective Action: On Governance Systems

The topic dealt with in this treatise is, as described excessively above, the cooperation between business firms. The existence of alliances among firms is an empirical phenomenon and thus indisputable. However, theory is seen to have difficulties in coping with the very nature of these arrangements.
Sascha Albers

A Framework for the Design of Alliance Governance Systems

In order to adapt the general conception of a governance system to the alliance case, an assessment of the distinguishing characteristics of alliance governance as compared to the intrafirm case will be provided. We thereby use the results of the chapter on the theory of the firm as a starting point to discuss some characteristics which are brought up in the alliance literature, which, interestingly, have only rarely addressed this fundamental question. Subsequently, the elements of a governance system for the alliance case will be specified.
Sascha Albers

Contingency Factors of Alliance Governance Systems

In this main chapter major contributions to the field of alliance governance or partial aspects thereof are reviewed and assessed with regard to their potential relevance to design aspects of alliance governance systems. The main focus of our analysis will be laid on the identification of relevant contingencies which influence, or even determine, the parameter values of the governance system’s design parameters as introduced in the previous chapter.
Sascha Albers

Configurations of Alliance Governance Systems

In the previous main chapters, nature, potential forms, and functions of an alliance governance system’s building blocks were identified and their individual varying relevance, suitability, and effectiveness assessed. At the center of this final chapter are the interdependencies and the interplay between these elements. Thus, whereas analysis was the major task up to this point, the purpose of the present chapter is synthesis.
Sascha Albers


This research set out to understand and explain instruments for and contexts of the effective design of organizational arrangements among firms which are based on formal contractual cooperative agreements - that is, to understand and explain instruments and contexts for the effective governance of alliances.
Sascha Albers


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