chapter  14
14 Pages

Asymmetrical alliances

WithBrian Tjemkes, Pepijn Vos, Koen Burgers

Alliances tend to be asymmetrical in nature, such that a dominant partner has a bargaining power advantage due to its superior resource endowments. Partners – especially weaker ones – face a unique challenge: finding the balance between exploiting resource asymmetries to create value while still preventing the escalation that can result from power asymmetries. This chapter focuses on this asymmetrical alliance challenge and focuses on the mechanisms that managers might use to deal with it. Connecting asymmetrical alliances with the alliance development framework offers some guidelines for decision making. The chapter proposes three sets of tactics that weaker firms might use to deal with dominant partners: offensive, defensive and acceptance. It identifies several specific managerial guidelines that will enable alliance managers to turn potentially unstable asymmetrical alliances into stable ones. The chapter concludes with a summary and a case illustration.