Excerpts from

Strategic Alliances: Institutionalizing Partnering Capabilities
A Report on The Conference Board’s 1997 Strategic Alliances Conference


On the Growth of Alliances
Over the last decade, as multiple forces, including globalization, the information age, and fierce competition, came together to redefine the economic environment, strategic alliances emerged as a key element of the corporate game plan….In fact, some view partnerships as virtually the only way to gain global capability and a competitive advantage today. "Alliances have been around for a very long time; it’s the fact that everyone is doing them—the incredible renaissance of alliances—that is more recent," says Dorothy Langer, president of Boston-based Langer and Company.

"It is almost an absolute business imperative," says Langer, "where you cannot gain any kind of competitive advantage without using alliances to leverage your business. One could almost say that the more companies do alliances, the more they and other companies will have to do them because they are so clearly an improvement in productivity and in leveraging revenues. It has a snowball effect."


On the Need for an Institutionalized Process for Forging Alliances
Many of the companies claiming a "process-less" approach have all the elements of a process in place except the phrase "institutionalized process." "I don’t know of any successful partnership situation that does not involve a process," says Langer. "What a company may say is not a process is actually a process of sorts; something that everyone in that company understands and knows how to work through."

"Any company that has done a tremendous number of partnerships would not have developed that number if they weren’t somewhat successful," she says. "So they had in place a process that worked more or less in an ad-hoc fashion. It wasn’t simply a matter of two companies shaking hands and suddenly making millions together."

"Even a company that has done a few successful partnerships will reach a point in time where it will need to institutionalize an approach as it accelerates its partnering," explains Langer. "Maybe it has been doing something right for years, but what it was doing wasn’t going to work for multiple partnerships. All of a sudden the company realizes, ‘Hey we’re spinning out of control.’"






Reprinted from A Conference Report published by The Conference Board
Copyright © 1997 by The Conference Board, Inc.