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Understanding Strategic Alliance Life Cycle: A 30 Year Literature Review of Leading Management Journals

This paper attempts to bring a coherent structure into the fairly vast and growing alliance literature and to serve as a medium for a holistic understanding of the major life stages of strategic alliances.


Mayank Dhaundiyal, Professor & Dean, Jindal Global Business School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India

Joseph Coughlan, Professor, School of Business, Maynooth University, Ireland


Alliances are becoming increasingly critical for firm growth and even survival in the current competitive environment (Musarra et al., 2016). Firms are entering alliances for a variety of reasons (O’Dwyer & Gilmore, 2018;  Panico,  2017)  including  entry  to  new  markets  (Lee,  2007),  achieving  economies  of  scale  (Inkpen,  2001), getting access to skills and knowledge (Drewniak &  Karaszewski,  2019;  Hamel,  1991;  O’Dwyer  &  Gilm-ore, 2018), gaining legitimacy (Hubbard et al., 2018; Lin et  al.,  2009)  and  mitigating  risk  (Inkpen,  2001).  Therefore, strategic alliances can potentially provide a lot of value to partnering firms. However, a significant number of alliances fail to meet their stated objectives. It is therefore imperative for academics and practitioners alike to better understand the key issues in strategic alliances. In this context, this paper contributes in two primary ways. First, it provides a coherent structure to the vast alliance literature by dividing the literature into three distinct yet related life stages of  an  alliance,  from  the  pre-alliance  stage  to  the  alliance  performance  measurement  phase. 

Second,  the researchers  also  discuss  the  major  issues  faced  by  partner firms while going through each of these alliance life stages, thereby providing a big-picture understanding of the  various  important  issues  which  need  to  be  focussed  upon to better understand alliances and thereby enhance the alliance success rate.

Given  the  enormity  of  the  literature  which  deals  with  strategic alliances and its various issues individually or in groups, and the limited yet focussed aim and scope of this paper, the researchers employ the integrative literature review method for the literature review. While doing so, they focus on the leading management journals with a justified assumption that  they  publish  manuscripts  of  the  highest  quality  and  rigour.

Published in: Business: Theory and Practice

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