Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Jorma Larimo, Niina Nummela and Tuija Mainela
Introduction: filling gaps in research on interfirm collaboration – focus on alliances and networks
Companies’ international growth may take several forms, but increasingly the most common alternatives for organizing growth are various hybrid forms. In this volume, hybrid organizations refers to the business activities that fall in between markets and hierarchies (Powell, 1987) and the governance structures that have been created around them. In particular, we focus on two concepts intimately related with the phenomenon of hybrids in international business: alliances and networks. The definition of alliances and networks is not straightforward and previous research differs in its views about whether alliances are actually networks, networks can be seen as alliances or are the two totally separate? For example, Gulati (1998, p. 293) represents the latter view when he looks at embeddedness of alliances, that is, ‘voluntary arrangements between firms involving exchange, sharing or co-development of products, technologies or services’, in social networks, that is, ‘a set of nodes (e.g., persons, organizations) linked by a set of social relationships (e.g., friendship, transfer of funds, overlapping membership) of a specified type’ (ibid., p. 295). Mainela and Puhakka (2008, p. 17), in turn, define an international joint venture as ‘a small international network – a triad’.