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Persistence of and interrelation between horizontal and vertical technology alliances

By Rene Belderbos, Victor Gilsing and Boris Lokshin


We examine how and to what extent the propensity to be engaged in alliances with different partner types (suppliers, customers and competitors) depends on prior alliance engagement with partner firms of the same type (persistence) and prior engagement in alliances with the other partner types (interrelation). We derive hypotheses from a combined competence and governance view of collaboration, and test these on an extensive panel dataset of innovation-active Dutch firms during 1996-2004. We find persistence in alliance engagement of all three types of partners, but customer alliances are more persistent than supplier alliances. Most persistent are joint supplier and customer alliances, which we attribute to the advantages of value chain integration in innovation processes. Positive interrelation also exists in vertical alliances, as immediate past customer alliances increase the propensity to engage in supplier alliances and vice versa. On the other hand, while prior engagement in horizontal (competitor) alliances increases the propensity to engage in vertical alliances, this effect only occurs with a longer lag. Overall, our findings are highly supportive of the idea that alliance engagement with different partner types is heterogeneous but interrelated. Our analysis suggests that the inter-temporal relationship between different types of alliances may be as important as their simultaneous relationship in alliance portfolios.R&D collaboration, technological partnerships, innovation, path dependency

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