Strategic Alliance Structures: An Organization Design Perspective

Sascha Albers*, Franz Wohlgezogen, Edward J. Zajac

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


While strategic alliances have emerged in recent years as common and important structural vehicles for business development, surprisingly little is known about how collaborative activities are organized and administered within these governance structures. We see classic organizational scholarship as useful insofar as it both provides clear classifications that distinguish alternative intraorganizational designs and explicates how they affect the inner workings of organizations. Existing alliance classification schemes based on type of collaborative activity, partner characteristics, or legal structure, on the other hand, rarely delineate important differences of how collaborative work is organized among partners. We seek to redress this shortcoming by developing a framework of alliance structural parameters based on classic organizational design considerations. Specifically we identify and discuss five key design parameters for alliances: the structural interface between partners, the structural “intraface” within partners, and the specialization, formalization, and centralization of the alliance organization. We show how consideration of these five parameters provides a deeper understanding of alliance governance and suggest how partner organizations can achieve differential levels of connectivity and steering for their collaborative ventures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-614
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • cooperative strategy
  • design and boundaries
  • strategic alliances
  • structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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