CLUSTERS OFCOLLABORATION: The firm, joint ventures, alliances and clubs
This paper looks at co-operative activity involving firms at three different levels; co-operative activity at the business level (such as joint venture), cooperative activity at firm level (alliances or partnerships between firms) and co-operative activity involving groups of firms (networks or clubs). Following Richardson, our interest is in trying to understand aspects of 'the complex and inter-locking clusters, groups and alliances which represent cooperation fully and formally developed' (Richardson 1972: 887). It is argued here that the key to developing such understanding lies in recognising the interaction and interplay between different levels of analysis in this context. A number of elements in the paper may be seen as following from, or consistent with, Richardson's 1972 paper, including his 'triple distinction' (ibid.: 896) between firm, co-operative and market modes of resource co-ordination; the role of complementary activities in collaboration; the role of future decisions in stimulating co-operative arrangements; and the picture of the firm as a bundle of capabilities represented by appropriate knowledge, experience and skills.