Governance dynamics in multi-partner R&D alliances: Integrating the control and coordination perspectives

Frano Barbic, Antonio Hidalgo, Raffaella Cagliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the dynamics of contractual and relational mechanisms during different phases of multi-partner R&D alliances. Design/methodology/approach: The paper uses a longitudinal single case study to gain in-depth understanding of which governance mechanisms are best suited for different phases of alliance collaboration. Applying a retrospective strategy for data collection, three rounds of interviews were conducted with representatives of all partner firms. The data were complemented by documentary analysis of both internal documents and publicly available information. Findings: The findings suggest that the use of governance mechanisms in multi-partner alliances depends on the characteristics of alliance phases. Relational governance is most important in the exploration and development phases, while the importance of contractual governance comes to the fore during the development and finalization phases. Despite the predominance of one type of mechanism, the findings support a complementary perspective of governance mechanisms. Research limitations/implications: The results of a single case study offer limited generalizability and should thus be treated with caution. More cross-industry, cross-national studies should be conducted to verify the applicability of the findings to other industries, cultures and geographical contexts. Practical implications: Managers should be aware that different phases of the alliance life cycle have different control and coordination needs, and should rely on different mechanisms during different phases of the alliance. Originality/value: The authors have synthesized insights from various perspectives (transaction cost economics, organization theory, social exchange theory), and developed a multidisciplinary approach to multi-partner collaborations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-429
Number of pages25
JournalBaltic Journal of Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alliance governance mechanisms
  • Contractual mechanisms
  • Governance dynamics
  • Life cycle
  • Multi-partner alliance
  • Relational mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Governance dynamics in multi-partner R&D alliances: Integrating the control and coordination perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this