Exploring the relationships between tangible and intangible resources in a learning alliance dynamics

Exploring the relationships between tangible and intangible resources in a learning alliance dynamics: comment on the paper by Kapmeier

Autore: Enzo Bivona

Kapmeier (2008) focuses his research on common learning and firms’ opportunistic behaviour in learning alliances. A strategic alliance, as clearly stated by Gulati (1998: 293), is a voluntary arrangement between firms to exchange and share knowledge as well as resources with the intent of developing processes, products, or services. This is a relevant topic not only for those firms that operate in industries characterised typically by high R&D investments, but also for those scholars who are interested in exploring the real causes of success and failure of an alliance.
From a firm perspective, alliances are perceived as a strategic means to foster business growth in a highly competitive and globalized environment. To successfully integrate and apply the knowledge shared in an alliance, firms are strongly interested in learning how to manage such an alliance (Kale, Dyer and Singh, 2002), to assess alliance performance and to appropriately select future alliance partners (Hoang and Rothaermel, 2005).
From a researcher perspective, while studies on learning alliances are substantial in the strategic literature, the question of how opportunistic partner behaviour may affect common learning is still unexplored. In fact, most of the literature (Khanna et al., 1998) focuses on private benefits “a firm can earn unilaterally by picking up skills from its partner and applying them to its own operations in areas unrelated to the alliance activities” or on firm behaviours oriented to outlearn the partner as fast as possible to reduce the dependency on the other part (Hamel, 1991; Larsson et al., 1998).
Furthermore, this literature essentially takes a static view and it often neglects the post-formation dynamics of alliances (Koza and Lewin, 2000; Das and Teng, 2001). Some key questions still not profoundly investigated are: How can alliances best be managed or adapted? What does generate the achievement or the anticipate dissolution of an alliance? What are the future implications for a firm that adopts an opportunistic behaviour?

Articolo pubblicato in: Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Volume 25 Issue 4, Pages 575 – 579


SR&BS_Bivona 2008