Alliance Management Capability in Dutch Universities
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Over the past two decades alliances have become an important strategic element for organizations. Prior research has identified alliance management capability (AMC) as an important determinant for alliance success and three phases that can be distinguished in the life cycle of an alliance. A case study was conducted to identify what organizational elements constitute AMC in Dutch universities and which of these organizational elements are employed in different phases of the alliance life cycle. Additionally, general organizational elements that do not refer to specific phases of an alliance were investigated. This research provides two contributions to the AMC literature. First, this research focuses on AMC in universities, instead of commercial firms. Second, AMC is studied over three different phases in the alliance life cycle. As general organizational elements almost all Dutch universities have departments and individual functions that are responsible for alliance related activities, however the alliance related activities and responsibilities are very much decentralized over different levels of the universities. Efforts to diffuse knowledge on alliance management are generally limited and focused on certain aspects. For the first phase of the alliance life cycle, the alliance formation and partner selection, Dutch universities have organizational functions to facilitate in this phase. The networks of individuals in the universities are an important element in this phase. There is also a bilateral process of scouting internally for researchers that match projects externally and, searching for parties externally that match inventions and knowledge internally. Furthermore, various organizational tools are employed in this phase in the form of bibliometric analyses, trainings, documents and organizing days for external parties. The second phase of the alliance life cycle, the governance and design, is also facilitated through organizational functions at different levels of the universities. Governance of collaborations is discussed at different levels of the universities. The universities use tools in the form of documents containing guidelines and rules about contracts, intellectual property (IP) and to take into account the academic interests of the universities. Most of the Dutch universities also have organizational functions that are involved in the postformation alliance management, the third phase of alliance life cycle. The involvement of these functions consists mainly of providing support to the researchers. Functions involved in alliance related activities also expressed the fragility of managing ongoing alliances at the universities.