In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Alliance Portfolios

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Reviews on Alliance Portfolios
  • Alliance Portfolios and Firm Performance Linkage
  • Alliance Portfolios and Knowledge-Related Factors
  • Do SMEs and Young Firms Benefit from Alliance Portfolios?

Management Alliance Portfolios
Pek-Hooi Soh, Annapoornima M. Subramanian
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 November 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0185


The field of alliance portfolio research has grown significantly since 2007, and much research has focused on the impact of alliance portfolios on firm performance. An alliance portfolio is a collection of alliances established by a firm with different partners over a certain number of years. The term has also been referred to as a network of direct ties or bilateral relationships of the firm. In management research, some researchers use the term to account for all alliances that remain actively involved in focal firm’s business when assessing the competitive positioning of the firm in an industry, whereas others include both existing and past alliances when focal firm’s alliance experience and capability development is concerned. In strategic management and innovation studies, scholars have investigated alliance portfolios that are typically made up of a variety of strategic partners who may possess specialized knowledge, capabilities, and other valuable resources required by focal firms. Thus, there exist variations in how alliance portfolios are defined in academic studies, especially depending on the research disciplines and the objectives of alliance formation in a particular industry context. Furthermore, management scholars have argued that a portfolio-level approach toward investigating the performance impact of strategic alliances is more appropriate than a dyadic view. The prime reason is that management cannot ignore the interdependence that exists between alliance activities, the trade-offs in resource allocation and the synergies that arise from across the alliance projects. Alliance portfolios will likely offer a larger scope of opportunities for new combinations than individual bilateral alliances do. In understanding the relationship between alliance portfolios and firm performance, scholarly works have branched into these broad research inquiries: (i) the configuration of alliance portfolios, (ii) the management of alliance portfolios, and (iii) the role of alliance portfolios from a knowledge-based view. More recently, a new theme has emerged to study whether and how small and young ventures benefit from alliance portfolios. Above all, across these lines of alliance portfolios research inquiry, growing attention has been drawn to the antecedents and consequence of learning and value creation among portfolio partners, which would predict a firm’s performance in profitability, innovation, and new business development.


Research on alliance portfolios is mainly published as journal articles. Until 2006, only one article on alliance portfolios was published every year. Nevertheless, the number of journal publications on alliance portfolios witnessed an exponential growth since 2007, with the record high of twenty-two articles published in 2017. The following journals are the leading sources of references for reviews, theory development and empirical research in the field of alliance portfolios. The top eight highly cited publications on alliance portfolios belong to following journals: Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Management, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Research Policy, Long Range Planning, and Technovation.

  • Academy of Management Journal. 1958–.

    The oldest of the journals published by the Academy of Management; a leading journal in the field of management; publishes only original empirical research.

  • Journal of Business Venturing. 1985–.

    A leading journal in entrepreneurship dedicated to multidisciplinary research to deepen our understanding of the entrepreneurial phenomenon.

  • Journal of Management. 1975–.

    A prominent research journal in the management field; publishes both theoretical and empirical work. The Journal of Management also dedicates one issue every year to review articles on a wide range of topics in management.

  • Journal of Marketing 1934–.

    A leading journal publishes impactful, thought-leading conceptual and empirical articles in the marketing discipline.

  • Journal of Product Innovation Management. 1980–.

    An interdisciplinary, international journal that seeks to advance theoretical and managerial knowledge of innovation management and product development.

  • Long Range Planning. 1968–.

    A leading international journal in the field of strategic management; it publishes articles relating to both academic research and issues of interest to practicing managers and students in professional programs.

  • Organization Science. 1989–.

    A leading journal publishes research articles in the fields of strategy, management, and organization theory.

  • Research Policy. 1971–.

    A top journal for research studies focusing on policy, management, and economic studies of science, technology, and innovation.

  • Strategic Management Journal. 1980–.

    A premier journal devoted specifically to strategic management studies; it publishes both theoretical and empirical research.

  • Technovation. 1981–.

    An interdisciplinary journal that publishes mainly empirical articles, covering all facets of technological innovation.

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