Two Essays on Alliance Partner Selection


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date12 Jun 2019


Firms collaborate with each other in various areas, including manufacturing, marketing, and research and development. Collaboration between individual firms allows them to exchange resources, share risks, and improve efficiency. Moreover, the value of interfirm collaboration varies with the attributes of alliance partners. Acknowledging the importance of partner attributes, this dissertation consists of two essays that examine the determinants of the partner selection criteria of firms.

The first essay examines situations in which a firm would ally with a high-status partner versus a low-status counterpart from a micro-foundation perspective. By integrating upper echelons theory and social comparison theory, it proposes that the relative individual status between a firm’s chief executive officer (CEO) and its chair of the board (COB) influences the value of partner status. Since CEO status closely relates to the CEO’s need for external endorsement, a firm is more likely to form an alliance with a high-status partner when its CEO has a lower social status compared to its COB. This effect also increases alongside the intensity of comparison between the CEO and COB.

The second essay explores the influence of natural disasters on firm preferences regarding friends and strangers in interfirm collaborations. With an emphasis on the new institutional logic after natural disasters, I argue that natural disasters help break the barrier between firms and strangers and motivate firms to expand their social networks. I propose that the effect of natural disasters on firm partner selection is further contingent on the extent to which a firm is embedded in the region and the level of social capital in the local community.

The hypotheses of the two essays are generally supported by the alliances in the U.S. computer industry between 1993 and 2010. The dissertation discusses the implications for interfirm alliances, micro-foundation of firms, and institutional logics research.