Open Access

Alliance motivations, control mechanisms and alliance performance: Evidence from China

Frontiers of Business Research in ChinaSelected Publications from Chinese Universities20093:6

Published: 21 January 2009


Strategic alliance can aid firms to build and sustain their competitive advantages. Firms set up strategic alliance mainly for two purposes: resource acquisition and capability learning. Formal control and social control are two widely adopted control mechanisms to secure the effectiveness of strategic alliance. In this study, we construct a model to analyze the choice of control mechanisms based on alliance motivations and the influence of control mechanisms on alliance performance. Based on a survey of 607 Chinese firms, we find that when resource acquisition is the key motivation behind alliance, formal control should be enhanced. Whereas when capability learning is the main purpose of alliance, social control becomes a better choice. Furthermore, this research also finds that the impact of both formal control and social control on alliance performance are nonlinear. Suggestions are provided on how to effectively use control mechanisms to attain the purposes of strategic alliance and on how to use control mechanisms to enhance alliance performance.


strategic alliance resource acquisition capability learning control mechanisms alliance performance