The communicative formation of strategic alliances : Tackling the alliance paradox from a process perspective
Process thinking that privileges time, flux and change over static organization design has recently received increasing attention among organization theorists. In this qualitative singlecase study, we propose that process theory can significantly enhance our knowledge about how to form strategic alliances. A process-based understanding may be helpful in this field because of a growing divide between the necessity to form alliances and their high failure rates. Building on key concepts of Luhmann's social systems theory, we analyze an alliance formation process in the health care sector. Our results indicate that a successful alliance formation process goes hand in hand with respectful communication at eye-level among the prospective alliance partners as well as with an early involvement of key stakeholders. We also show that to increase the odds of a successful alliance formation, prospective partners need the courage to decide under incomplete information and are well advised to include a certain degree of institutional flexibility into their agreements. With these findings, we aim to enrich the literature on alliance formation from a process-theoretical perspective and hope to raise managers' awareness for some of the obstacles they may face when engaging in an alliance formation process.
contribution to scientific community
European Group for Organizational Studies
28th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium