Governance | Papers

Alliance experience and governance flexibility

Prior work has mapped the transaction at the heart of an alliance to the risks of opportunism inherent in that alliance and, ultimately, to how the alliance is structured and governed. We extend this approach by noting that the parties in an alliance do not necessarily perceive the same hazards as predominant and thus may have different preferences for how the alliance is structured. Nevertheless, it is in each party’s best interest to find a structure that protects its interests, while also allowing its partner to protect its interests sufficiently. Drawing from the alliance management capabilities literature, we argue that firms with more alliance experience are better able to protect their interests under any given alliance structure, making the choice of structure less consequential to them. The resulting governance versatility provides a competitive advantage by enabling firms to form advantageous alliances that are less available to inexperienced competitors. Our study of innovative alliances in biopharmaceutical industry lends support to the hypotheses, allowing us to advance the literature on governance choice in alliances, the literature on alliance management, and their intersection.

Lee J, Hoetker G, Qualls W. 2015. “Alliance experience and governance flexibility”. Organization Science 26(5): 1536–1551 View and download

Configuration of value chain activities: The effect of pre-entry capabilities, transactions hazard and industry evolution on the decision to internalize

We integrate insights from organizational capabilities, organizational economics, and industry evolution to examine industry entrants’ boundary choices about value chain activities, and test hypotheses in 1978–2009 data from a sample of U.S. bioethanol producers. We find support for our predictions that transaction hazards, decomposed as either enduring or transient over the stages of industry evolution, are positively associated with the choice to internalize value chain activities. Pre-entry experience in an activity increases the likelihood of its internalization and reduces the effect of enduring transaction hazards on the internalization choice. Importantly, we also distinguish between firm- and founder-level pre-entry capabilities (that is, the capabilities of firms versus those of founders). Diversifying entrants with firm-level integrative capabilities are more likely to internalize value chain activities than start-ups, and this effect persists over the industry’s life cycle. The relationship between pre-entry experience with an activity and the likelihood of internalizing it is also stronger for diversifying entrants. Findings improve understanding of the relationships among capability development, boundary choice, and industry evolution.

Qian, L., Agarwal, R., & Hoetker, G. P. 2012. Configuration of value chain activities: the effect of pre-entry capabilities, transaction hazard and industry evolution on the decision to internalize. Organization Science, 23(5): 1330-1349.
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Do modular products lead to modular organizations?

The tacit assumption that increased product modularity is associated with advantageous increases in organizational modularity underlies much of the literature on modularity. Previous empirical investigations of this assumption, few in number, have faced numerous confounding factors and generated conflicting results. I build a causal model for the relationship between product and organizational modularity, which I test using a distinctive empirical setting that controls for confounding factors present in previous studies. I find support for only part of the assumed relationship, showing that modularity is a more multifaceted concept than previously recognized. In particular, increased product modularity enhances reconfigurability of organizations more quickly than it allows firms to move activities out of hierarchy. The paper contributes to the emerging stream of research that focuses on the previously under-appreciated costs of designing and maintaining a modular organization.

Hoetker, G., "Do modular products lead to modular organizations?", Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 27, No. 6, June, 2006, pp. 501-518. View and download