, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 339-356
Date: 14 Jan 2006

Using an Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma with Exit Option to Study Alliance Behavior: Results of a Tournament and Simulation

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Nearly half of all strategic alliances fail (Park and Russo, 1996; Dyer et al., 2001), often because of opportunistic behavior by one party or the other. We use a tournament and simulation to study strategies in an iterated prisoner's dilemma game with exit option to shed light on how a firm should react to an opportunistic partner. Our results indicate that a firm should give an alliance partner a second chance following an opportunistic act but that subsequent behavior should be contingent on the value of the next best opportunity outside the alliance. Firms should be more forgiving if the potential benefits from the alliance exceed other opportunities. The strategies were also found to be robust across a wide range of game lengths. The implications of these results for alliance strategies are discussed.

Steven E. Phelan received his PhD in economics from La Trobe University (Australia) in 1998. Following five years at the University of Texas at Dallas, he joined the faculty of the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2003. Dr. Phelan's research interests include competitive dynamics, organizational efficiency, acquisition and alliance performance, and entrepreneurial competence. His methods of choice to study these phenomena include agent-based modelling, experimental game theory, and event studies. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Phelan held executive positions in the telecommunications and airline industries and was a principal partner in Bridges Management Group, a consultancy specializing in strategic investment decisions.
Richard J. Arend is a graduate of the University of British Columbia's doctoral program in Policy Analysis and Strategy. He is on the Management faculty of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, arriving most recently from the Management faculty of New York University's Stern School of Business. Dr. Arend's interests lie in the analysis of unusual modes of firm value creation and destruction, where he has published in several top journals. He is a professional engineer with work and consulting experience in aerospace and computing.
Darryl A. Seale joined the faculty of UNLV in 1999, following three years at Kent State University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Prior to Alabama, he completed his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Business Administration at the University of Arizona, his M.B.A. from Penn State University, and spent over ten years in management and market planning positions in the health care industry. Professor Seale's research interests include strategic decision making, bargaining and negotiation, and behavioral game theory. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and has been published in top-tier journals including Management Science, OBHDP, Games and Economic Behavior, and Strategic Management Journal. His teaching interests include business policy/strategy, managerial decision making, and bargaining and negotiation.