Individual agency as explanation of alliance development and change : a case study

Joyner, Katherine Anne (2011) Individual agency as explanation of alliance development and change : a case study. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Alliances, with other inter-organisational forms, have become a strategy of choice and necessity for both the private and public sectors. From initial formation, alliances develop and change in different ways, with research suggesting that many alliances will be terminated without their potential value being realised. Alliance process theorists address this phenomenon, seeking explanations as to why alliances unfold the way they do. However, these explanations have generally focussed on economic and structural determinants: empirically, little is known about how and why the agency of alliance actors shapes the alliance path. Theorists have suggested that current alliance process theory has provided valuable, but partial accounts of alliance development, which could be usefully extended by considering social and individual factors.

The purpose of this research therefore was to extend alliance process theory by exploring individual agency as an explanation of alliance events and in doing so, reveal the potential of a multi-frame approach for understanding alliance process. Through an historical study of a single, rich case of alliance process, this thesis provided three explanations for the sequence of alliance events, each informed by a different theoretical perspective. The explanatory contribution of the Individual Agency (IA) perspective was distilled through juxtaposition with the perspectives of Environmental Determinism (ED) and Indeterminacy/Chance (I/C).

The research produced a number of findings. First, it provided empirical support for the tentative proposition that the choices and practices of alliance actors are partially explanatory of alliance change and that these practices are particular to the alliance context. Secondly, the study found that examining the case through three theoretical frames provided a more complete explanation. Two propositions were put forward as to how individual agency can be theorised within this three-perspective framework. Finally, the case explained which alliance actors were required to shape alliance decision making in this case and why.

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ID Code: 46047
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Mohannak, Kavoos & Kabanoff, Boris
Keywords: organisational alliances, private sector, public sector
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 19 Sep 2011 05:47
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 14:41

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