Organization Management Journal


The interest in strategic alliances has increased over the years, especially in high tech global industries such as biotechnology, as firms seek to gain access to needed resources, expertise, and knowledge for developing and commercializing new products and technologies. The governance structure of these alliances, which is an important consideration in understanding alliance formation and performance, is influenced by both external and internal contexts of the alliance partners. However, evidence from prior research has been inconclusive regarding the impact of external contexts on alliance governance selection. To better understand this impact, we simultaneously examine three key partner external contexts - international, technological, and social contexts, and their influence on biotechnology-pharmaceutical alliance governance structure selection. Using a sample of 389 alliances formed during the six-year period 1995 through 2000, we find that the international context, specifically national cultural distance between alliance partners, and the social context, specifically credibility of the biotechnology partner in the alliance network, influence governance structure selection. We offer implications of our findings for theory, future research, and management practice.