Spanish Economic Review

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 159–175 | Cite as

Joint Ventures versus Contractual Agreements: An Empirical Investigation

  • Stefano Comino
  • Petr Mariel
  • Joel Sandonís
Regular Article


In this paper, we empirically investigate the determinants of the governance form of strategic alliances. We use a database with 1,344 worldwide alliances in several industrial sectors. In contrast with previous empirical studies, we find that alliances undertaking R&D activities are more likely to use loose forms of organization (contractual agreements) than more hierarchical ones (joint ventures), and this result is even stronger when the alliance takes place in technologically sophisticated sectors. Moreover, we show that alliances between rival firms tend also to be organized with forms closer to arm’s length transactions. When the scope of an alliance is multidimensional or the alliance is an international one, however, firms prefer more hierarchical organizations such as joint ventures.


Strategic alliances Governance form Joint ventures Transaction costs economics Real option theory 

JEL Classification

D23 L22 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di EconomiaUniversità di TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Departamento de Econometría y Estadística, Facultad de CC. Economicas y EmpresarialesUniversidad del País VascoBilbaoSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y EmpresarialesUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain

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