Improving the Progress of Research & Development (R&D) Projects by Selecting an Optimal Alliance Structure and Partner Type

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This paper extends the study of alliance governance structure by examining what alliance structure, coordination mechanisms and partner type best enhance the likelihood of Research and Development (R&D) progress or performance. We specially focus on the coordination and interaction mechanism of alliances, through which we classify the alliance governance structures in order to reflect the more complex alliance types and contracts used in today's R&D. Using data from 255 biopharmaceuticals between the years 2000 and 2004, we found that, ceteris paribus, a moderate degree of inter‐partner interaction and a moderately complex (non‐equity‐based) alliance contract contributes more to a better R&D alliance performance than those structures that are too simple or too organizationally embedded (e.g. equity joint ventures), which possibly increase the risk of misalignment and miscommunication between allies. In addition, due to the reduced opportunism and the diverse resource (e.g. technology) pooled in the alliance, allying with diverse organizational partners such as non‐profit research institutes and universities is more likely to enhance the R&D performance. Our findings provide insightful strategic implications to practitioners in designing an appropriate alliance governance structure and choosing the right partner type for a successful R&D collaboration.


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