noPurpose ¿ To explore alliance managers' perceptions of the most significant determinants of strategic alliance success in the software sector. \ud \ud Design/methodology/approach ¿ The study is based on 30 key informant interviews and a survey of 143 alliance managers. \ud \ud Findings ¿ While both structural and process factors are important, the most significant factors affecting alliance success are the adaptability and openness of the alliance partners, human resource practices and partners' learning capability during implementation. Alliance partners should pay more attention to operational implementation issues as an alliance evolves, in order to achieve successful cooperative relationships. \ud \ud Research limitations/implications ¿ This research has responded to the call for more empirical study of the underlying causes of successful alliances. It contributes to the ongoing debate about which factors have most impact on strategic alliance outcomes, and complements prior research on several dimensions. First, using selected interview quotations to illuminate the quantitative analysis, it contributes to a deeper understanding of the alliance process, and reduced the ambiguity about which factors are most influential. In particular, the study provides support for those authors who have argued for the relative importance of the alliance implementation process. Second, support has also been found for the prominence of learning capability and the inter-partner learning process as a major component of effective alliance implementation. Third, the results are based on the views of practicing alliance managers, which addresses a recognized gap in the literature. \ud \ud Practical implications ¿ The results send a signal to senior managers contemplating strategic alliances that they should not underestimate the importance of alliance process factors and the role that alliance managers play in achieving successful alliance relationships. This is particularly important, given the high levels of alliance failure reported in the extant literature. \ud \ud Originality/value ¿ While past research on strategic alliances has placed more emphasis on the importance of alliance formation than on implementation, there is an ongoing debate about whether structural, formation factors have more influence on alliance success than implementation or process factors. There has been only limited empirical work examining this interplay between structure and process, particularly from an operations perspective, and very few studies have examined strategic alliances in the software industry
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