Process issues in alliance management: A panel discussion.
Torre, Jose de la
Ring, Peter S.
The purpose in this series of papers is to examine different perspectives on the evolution of the process of collaboration and the management challenges therein by focusing on a single case experience. The literature on alliance and collaboration has grown immensely in the last few years. Much attention has been given to the economic rationale for intermediate organizational forms, the so-called «swollen middle» (Hennart, 1993) that lies between market and hierarchical solutions, and to the conditions under which such structures are optimal (Hennart, 1988; Balakrishnan & Koza, 1993; Buckley and Casson, 1996). More recently, there has been a virtual explosion in the treatment of the managerial challenges involved in inter-firm collaboration, ranging from issues of negotiation and conflict resolution to the role of strategic intent or prior experience, as well as numerous attempts to conceptualize and measure that most ephemeral and over-abused concept, trust. The initial paper in the series introduces the specifics of the case on which our discussion is based, and presents a view on the role that perceptions of efficiency and equity between the partners within a relationship have on the evolution of their collaboration. As elaborated in the paper, efficiency perceptions refer to the partners' views on the potential for value creation within the alliance, relative to other organizational choices. Equity perceptions relate to the expected balance between the partners' relative costs and benefits in the alliance, that is, the potential for fairness in value appropriation. The paper starts by summarizing the facts of a failed international joint venture, and chronicles the process of its disintegration through a series of events in its 3-year history. The concepts of efficiency and equity are then defined and formalized. Next, the authors provide their own interpretation of the case data and propose a structure for the analysis of the inter-partner relationship. Finally, they offer a model of the evolution of collaboration that is driven by the maintenance of relational quality among the partners, including the accommodation of changes in both the business environment and the strategies of the partners over time. The three other papers in the series elaborate on this interpretation and bring a broader set of concerns derived from each author's own research trajectory. Since two of these were responsible for earlier models on which the initial case analysis was based, they have a unique opportunity to revisit their original thinking and reinterpret it in view of the facts presented. They take a more dynamic view and incorporate more recent theoretical insights from the management process literature to the collaborative process. The last paper ventures beyond the dyadic framework of the original analysis to examine the lessons that can be drawn for broader networks of collaborative alliances. A final section on conclusions summarizes the arguments and suggests where there may be convergence, as well as proposing new avenues for research.
alliances; evolution process collaboration; management challenges;
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