Alliance portfolio reconfiguration following a technological discontinuity


Journal Article

Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Research summary: We study how technological discontinuities generate first- and second-order effects on alliance formation and termination, leading to reconfiguration of firms' alliance portfolios. Following technological shocks, we argue that firms often seek alliances that provide new resources while also having incentives to form alliances for reinforced and challenged resources that complement the new resources. In parallel, alliance terminations, even involving resources otherwise unaffected by the discontinuity, increase due to limits in firms' alliance carrying capacity. We study biopharmaceutical firms between 1990 and 2000, which faced a technological discontinuity in 1995 in the form of combinatorial chemistry and high-throughput screening. We improve understanding of how technological discontinuities affect the value of resources and how firms reconfigure alliance portfolios in response. Managerial summary: When firms form alliances to gain new resources during technological discontinuities that disrupt their industry, they cannot consider only the focal new partnerships. Instead, new alliances create complementarity and substitution pressures that lead to broader reconfiguration of the firms' alliance portfolios: (1) complementarity creates incentives to also form alliances for resources that the technological discontinuity reinforces or challenges in order to improve the collective value of co-specialized assets; (2) substitution creates incentives to terminate existing alliances, even if their value is otherwise unaffected by the discontinuity, in order to create carrying capacity for new alliances. Thus, one new alliance can generate a cascade of reconfiguration that challenges the balance between the benefits of stability and the need for change in an alliance portfolio. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Asgari, N; Singh, K; Mitchell, W

Published Date

  • May 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 38 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1062 - 1081

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-0266

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0143-2095

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/smj.2554

Citation Source

  • Scopus