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We will talk about definitions for alliances and I really want to make two points.
First, there's a lot of different ways of thinking about alliances, lots of forms.
Some of them are free-standing,
some of them are contractual partnerships,
some of them are consortia,
some of them involve a small number of people working together informally,
others large numbers of people working together more formally.
Lots of purposes, they can be for R&D,
they can be for standard setting,
they can be for production, for marketing, technology.
You think of a reason you might want to get access to resources that another firm has,
that's another purpose for alliance.
But no matter what the form or what the purpose,
there's one definition, and there's three points here,
and each of the words in each of these points is really important.
First, alliance is a collaboration that commits to resources to a joint activity.
So that means two or more firms are working together collaborating,
they're committing resources, they're taking some things that they only
have access to, that they control and putting them in
the auspices of working with somebody else, and they're doing it together.
So collaboration, committing resources, and working together.
Second, these are activities that
involve independent organizations that have strategic autonomy.
So, alliance means you're working with a partner that has its own goals,
its own objectives and for the purpose of the alliance you want them to line up,
but you need to recognize that each of you
ultimately is thinking about your own strategy and your own needs.
They used to stop there wanting to find an alliance.
When I spent some time talking with
some of my friends who do alliance management for real,
and they said, "Look, you've really got to emphasize a third point."
That yes, you're collaborating with resources.
Yes, you're independent with strategic autonomy.
And the third point is that the contracts are always incomplete.
No matter how much effort you put to try to
outline the terms of reference for how you use the resources,
and what's going to happen in the future with those resources,
and then the new things that you create from it,
you can never write a complete contract.
World is too complex,
changes in too many uncertain ways to really know what's going to happen.
So you start, you have a contract,
but recognize that you're working with somebody that has
its own autonomy and there's inevitably going to be
differences of opinion about how you use that.