Shu Wing Chan

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration


School of Management


Faculty of Business and Law

First Supervisor

Craig Standing


Strategic alliances frequently terminate prematurely and as a result they may be seen as failures (Das et al., 1998; 2000a; 2000b). Forrest (1990) and Brown et al. (1995) suggested that IS (Information Systems) and IT (Information Technology) could reduce the prevalence of strategic alliance failures. The literature on strategic alliances is vast, and IS frequently mentioned as important but there is comparatively little research specifically focusing on the role of IS in supporting alliances. Given that it has been emphasised as an important issue and the fact that the research already conducted is fragmented across disciplines and journals, there is a need to analyse and synthesise knowledge in this area. Therefore, this research aims at fulfilling this gap by investigating the role of information systems in strategic alliances.

An integration of Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) and interpretive research methods is employed in this research study. This grounded interpretive research study has been conducted by employing peer reviewed literature on the topic. With this approach, the literature acts as the data set to be analysed. The selection of this approach has a number of advantages over gathering data through case studies and/or surveys as published articles can be international, span different types of organisations and contexts, and potentially provide a rich data set. However, this latter approach is not without its own challenges since a rigorous protocol for the selection and analysis of articles is required.

The research findings suggest that information systems have played a significant and strategic role in organisational alliance development. As GTM is a research method which encourages researchers to develop new theories and models, eight significant patterns have been determined and they have been used to develop two new research tools. The two research tools are: The Alliance Framework (Figure 34) and The Alliance Analysis Model (Figure 37). The Alliance Framework classifies strategic alliances into three alliance stages; while The Alliance Analysis Model demonstrates the evolution of an alliance relationship according to each alliance stage.

Both research tools provide visual representations of the current alliance relationship status, which can determine the potential strengths or weaknesses of a strategic alliance. Having applied the combined use of these two research tools, management teams of a strategic alliance can generate effective strategies in the future according to the current alliance relationship status and the alliance stages. The purpose of these two research tools is to make contributions to academic research, so that researchers can use them to analyse strategic alliances in a systematic manner.

Another important research finding is the determination of four alliance facilitators. An alliance facilitator is defined as the elements that support alliance activities, which contribute to the alliance success. The four facilitators isolated in this study are: Trust, Alliance Commitment, Organisational Learning Structure and Cultural Compatibility. This resulted from the application of GTM as four significant patterns grounded up from fifteen characteristics of the twelve selected journal articles. All the alliance facilitators have been validated in reviews of the literature.

LCSH Subject Headings

Strategic alliances (Business)

Information resources management.

Grounded theory.