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Strategic alliances are no longer a strategic option but a necessity in many markets and industries. Dynamic markets for both end products and technologies, coupled with the increasing costs of doing business, have resulted in a significant increase in the use of alliances. Yet, managers are finding it increasingly difficult to capture value from alliances. In this paper, we present a model that describes the knowledge resource exchange between alliance partners. This model focuses on the different dimensions of knowledge resources (tacitness, specificity, and complexity) and their associated value implications, as well as the different roles of the partner based on its position within an industry network (complementor, competitor, supplier, customer, or other). We also argue that in order to capture and internalize knowledge obtained through an alliance, a firm must have an alliance learning capability. We illustrate the use of this model in the computer industry by analyzing the publicly announced alliances of Dell Computer Corporation and Sun Microsystems, Inc. By applying our resource exchange model, we were able to analyze the alliance strategy for each firm and to understand the alignment between the announced business strategy and alliance strategy for each firm. The findings suggest that what is important is not necessarily a particular alliance strategy, but rather an alignment between alliance strategy and business strategy.
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