Strategic alliances: A synthesis of conceptual foundations

  • P. Rajan Varadarajan
  • Margaret H. Cunningham
Special Issue On Relationship Marketing


Strategic alliances, a manifestation of interorganizational cooperative strategies, entails the pooling of specific resources and skills by the cooperating organizations in order to achieve common goals, as well as goals specific to the individual partners. Gaining access to new markets; accelerating the pace of entry into new markets; sharing of research and development, manufacturing, and/or marketing costs; broadening the product line/filling product line gaps; and learning new skills are among the motives underlying the entry of firms into strategic alliances. During the last decade, an increasing number of firms have entered into alliances with other firms within the same industry, as well as within other industries. Some firms have progressed well beyond forming isolated alliances to establishing a web of intra- and interindustry, and intra-and international strategic alliances. Against this backdrop, we provide a synthesis of the conceptual foundations of strategic alliances and explore the role of marketing in strategic alliances.


Marketing Strategic Alliance Harvard Business Review Strategic Management Journal Home Market 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Achrol, Ravi S. 1991. “Evolution of the Marketing Organization: New Forms for Turbulent Environments.”Journal of Marketing 55 (October): 77–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Achrol, Ravi S., Lisa K. Scheer, and Louis W. Stern. 1990.Designing Successful Transorganizational Marketing Alliances. Report No. 90-118. Cambridge, MA: Marketing Science Institute.Google Scholar
  3. Adler, Lee. 1966. “Symbiotic Marketing.”Harvard Business Review 44 (November–December): 59–71.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, James C., Håkan Håkansson, and Jan Johanson. 1994. “Dyadic Business Relationships Within a Network Context.”Journal of Marketing 58 (October): 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ansoff, Igor A. 1957. “Strategies for Diversification.”Harvard Business Review 30 (September–October): 113–24.Google Scholar
  6. Arndt, Johan. 1979. “Toward a Concept of Domesticated Markets.”Journal of Marketing 43 (Fall): 69–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. “AT&T’s Crucial Charge Into Canada.” 1993.Financial Times of Canada August 14, pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  8. Badaracco, Joseph L., Jr. 1991.The Knowledge Link: How Firms Compete Through Strategic Alliances. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  9. Barney, Jay B. 1991. “Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage.”Journal of Management 17 (March): 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bleeke, Joel and David Ernst. 1991. “The Way to Win in Cross-Border Alliances.”Harvard Business Review 69 (November–December): 127–35.Google Scholar
  11. Bucklin, Louis P. and Sanjit Sengupta. 1993. “Organizing Successful Co-Marketing Alliances.”Journal of Marketing 57 (April): 32–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buzzell, Robert D. and Bradley T. Gale. 1987.The PIMS Principles: Linking Strategy to Performance. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  13. “Cafe Au Lait, aCroissant—and Trix.” 1992.Business Week August 24, pp. 50–1.Google Scholar
  14. Child, J. 1987. “Information Technology, Organization and Response to Strategic Challenges.”California Management Review 29 (Fall): 33–50.Google Scholar
  15. Coyne, Kevin. 1985. “Sustainable Competitive Advantage—What It Is, What It Isn’t.”Business Horizons 29 (January–February): 54–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cravens, David W., Shanon H. Shipp, and Karen S. Cravens. 1993. “Analysis of Cooperative Interorganizational Relationships, Strategic Alliance Formation, and Strategic Alliance Effectiveness.”Journal of Strategic Marketing 1 (March): 55–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cutts, Robert L. 1992. “Capitalism in Japan: Cartels and Keiretsu.”Harvard Business Review 70 (July–August): 48–55.Google Scholar
  18. Daft, Richard. 1983.Organization Theory and Design. New York: West Publications.Google Scholar
  19. Day, George S. 1992. “Marketing’s Contribution to the Strategy Dialogue.”Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 20 (Fall): 323–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Day, George S. and S. Klein. 1987. “Cooperative Behavior in Vertical Markets: The Influence of Transaction Costs and Competitive Strategies.” InReview of Marketing. Ed. M. Houston. Chicago, IL: American Marketing Association, 39–66.Google Scholar
  21. Day, George S. and Robin Wensley. 1988. “Assessing Advantage: A Framework for Diagnosing Competitive Superiority.”Journal of Marketing 52 (April): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dwyer, F. Robert, Paul H. Schurr, and Sejo Oh. 1987. “Developing Buyer-Seller Relationships.”Journal of Marketing 51 (April): 11–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. “For Bankrupt Companies, Happiness is a WarmKeiretsu.” 1992.Business Week October 26, pp. 48–9.Google Scholar
  24. Ghemawat, Pankaj, Michael E. Porter, and Richard A. Rawlinson. 1986. “Patterns of International Coalition Activity.” InCompetition in Global Industries. Ed. Michael E. Porter. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 315–43.Google Scholar
  25. Gibson, Richard. 1990. “Cereal Venture is Planning Honey of a Battle in Europe.”Wall Street Journal November 14, pp. B1, B10.Google Scholar
  26. Gupta, Ashok K., S. P. Raj, and David Wilemon. 1986. “A Model for Studying R&D—Marketing Interface in the Product Innovation Process.”Journal of Marketing 50 (April): 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hamel, Gary. 1991. “Competition for Competence and Inter-Partner Learning Within International Strategic Alliances.”Strategic Management Journal 12 (January–February): 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hamel, Gary, Y. Doz, and C. K. Prahalad. 1989. “Collaborate With Your Competitors—and Win.”Harvard Business Review 67 (January–February): 133–9.Google Scholar
  29. Harrigan, Kathryn R. 1984. “Multinational Corporate Strategy: Editor’s Introduction.”Columbia Journal of World Business 19 (Summer): 2–6.Google Scholar
  30. —— 1988. “Joint Ventures and Competitive Advantage.”Strategic Management Journal 9 (March–April): 141–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Heide, Jan B. 1994. “Interorganizational Governance in Marketing Channels.”Journal of Marketing 58 (January): 71–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hennart, Jean-Francois. 1988. “A Transaction Costs Theory of Equity Joint Ventures.”Strategic Management Journal 9 (July–August): 361–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hout, Thomas, Michael E. Porter, and Eileen Rudden. 1982. “How Global Companies Win Out.”Harvard Business Review 60 (September–October): 98–108.Google Scholar
  34. “How Ford and Mazda Shared the Driver’s Seat.” 1992.Business Week March 26, pp. 94–5.Google Scholar
  35. Jarillo, J. C. 1988. “On Strategic Networks.”Strategic Management Journal 9 (January–February): 31–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Johnston, Russell and Paul R. Lawrence. 1988. “Beyond Vertical Integration: The Rise of the Value-Adding Partnership.”Harvard Business Review 66 (July–August): 94–101.Google Scholar
  37. Kelly, Michael. 1990. “Strategic Alliances.”Investing in Canada 3 (Spring): 1–3.Google Scholar
  38. Knowlton, Christopher. 1991. “Europe Cooks up a Cereal Brawl.”Fortune June 3, pp. 175–9.Google Scholar
  39. Kogut, Bruce. 1988. “Joint Ventures: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives.”Strategic Management Journal 9 (July–August): 319–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. “Learning from Japan.” 1992.Business Week January 27, pp. 52–8.Google Scholar
  41. Lippman, S. A. and R. P. Rumelt. 1982. “Uncertain Imitability: An Analysis of Interfirm Differences in Efficiency Under Competition.”Bell Journal of Economics 13: 418–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Main, Jeremy. 1990. “Making Global Alliances Work.”Fortune December 17, pp. 123–6.Google Scholar
  43. McKenna, Regis. 1991. “Marketing Is Everything.”Harvard Business Review 69 (January–February): 65–79.Google Scholar
  44. Morgan, Robert M. and Shelby D. Hunt. 1994. “The Commitment-Trust Theory of Relationship Marketing.”Journal of Marketing 58 (July): 20–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nielsen, R. P. 1987. “Cooperative Strategy in Marketing.”Business Horizons 33 (July–August): 61–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ohmae, Kenichi. 1985. “Becoming a Triad Power: The New Global Corporation.”The McKinsey Quarterly (Spring): 2–25.Google Scholar
  47. ——. 1987. “The Triad World View.”Journal of Business Strategy 7 (Spring): 8–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. ——. 1989. “The Global Logic of Strategic Alliances.”Harvard Business Review 67 (March–April): 143–54.Google Scholar
  49. Oliver, Christine. 1990. “Determinants of Interorganizational Relationships: Integration and Future Directions.”Academy of Management Review 15 (April): 241–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Parkhe, Arvind. 1993. “Strategic Alliance Structuring: A Game Theoretic and Transaction Cost Examination of Interfirm Cooperation.”Academy of Management Journal 36 (August): 794–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. “The Partners.” 1990.Business Week February 10, pp. 102–7.Google Scholar
  52. Pfeffer, Jeffrey and Gerald Salancik. 1978.The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Perspective. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  53. Porter, Michael E. 1980.Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  54. —— 1985.Competitive Advantage. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  55. Porter, Michael E. and Mark B. Fuller. 1986. “Coalitions and Global Strategy.” InCompetition in Global Industries. Ed. Michael E. Porter. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 315–43.Google Scholar
  56. Rapoport, Carla. 1990. “Mazda’s Bold New Global Strategy.”Fortune December 17, pp. 109–13.Google Scholar
  57. -----. 1991. “Why Japan Keeps on Winning.”Fortune July 15, pp. 76–85.Google Scholar
  58. Ruekert, Robert W. and Orville C. Walker. 1987. “Marketing’s Interaction With Other Functional Units: A Conceptual Framework and Empirical Evidence.”Journal of Marketing 51 (January): 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schlender, Bernton R. 1993. “How Toshiba Makes Alliances Work.”Fortune October 4, pp. 116–20.Google Scholar
  60. Sheth, Jagdish N. and Atul Parvatiyar. 1992. “Towards a Theory of Business Alliance Formation.”Scandinavian International Business Review 1 (3): 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Spekman, Robert E. and Kirti Sawhney. 1990.Toward a Conceptual Understanding of the Antecedents of Strategic Alliances. Report No. 90-114. Cambridge, MA: Marketing Science Institute.Google Scholar
  62. Tallman, Stephen B. 1991. “Strategic Management Models and Resource-Based Strategies Among MNEs in a Host Market.”Strategic Management Journal 12 (Special Issue-Summer): 69–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Terpstra, Vern and Bernard L. Simonin. 1992. “Strategic Alliances in the Triad: An Exploratory Study.”Journal of International Marketing 1 (1): 4–25.Google Scholar
  64. Varadarajan, P. Rajan. 1986. “Horizontal Cooperative Sales Promotion: A Framework for Classification and Additional Perspectives.”Journal of Marketing 50 (April): 61–73.Google Scholar
  65. Varadarajan, P. Rajan and Anil Menon. 1988. “Cause-Related Marketing: A Coalignment of Marketing Strategy and Corporate Philanthropy.”Journal of Marketing 52 (July): 58–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Varadarajan, P. Rajan and Daniel Rajaratnam. 1986. “Symbiotic Marketing Revisited.”Journal of Marketing 50 (January): 7–17.Google Scholar
  67. Watson, Craig M. 1982. “Counter-Competition Abroad to Protect Home Markets.”Harvard Business Review 60 (January–February): 40–2.Google Scholar
  68. Webster, Frederick E., Jr. 1992. “The Changing Role of Marketing in the Corporation.”Journal of Marketing 56 (October): 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wells, John. 1984. “In Search of Synergy.” Unpublished dissertation. Harvard University. Boston.Google Scholar
  70. Williamson, Oliver E. 1975.Markets and Hierarchies. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Rajan Varadarajan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margaret H. Cunningham
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.University of MassachusettsAmherst
  2. 2.Texas A&M UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station
  4. 4.Queen’s UniversityCanada

Personalised recommendations