Title: To ally or not to ally and why high-reputation firms can gain reputation from selecting lower-reputation partners

Authors: Anne Norheim-Hansen

Addresses: Department of Strategy, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship, KEDGE Business School, Domaine de Luminy BP 921, 13288 Marseille Cedex 9, France

Abstract: This article addresses a dilemma in strategic alliance partner selection. Prior research has shown that traditionally prospective partners with higher or equal reputations are preferred. Yet, firms can have simultaneously high and low reputations, for different attributes. When key reputations are satisfactory, but others are inadequate, how does the higher-reputation focal firm decide on whether to ally? An exploratory multiple case study utilising managing directors (MDs) - the main decision makers - as unit of analysis, and an inferior environmental reputation, exposes a sequence of considerations. Implications for the focal firm's own environmental credibility are theoretically explored, leading to the proposition that higher-reputation firms can gain reputation from allying with lower-reputation partners. Hence, this study challenges assumptions on reputational consequences of allying with lower-reputation firms.

Keywords: alliance partner selection; decision process; environmental credibility; environmental reputation; exploratory multiple case study; international cooperation; managing directors; Norway; reputation asymmetry; reputation spillovers; strategic alliances; high-reputation firms; lower-reputation partners; alliance partners.

DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2017.082541

European Journal of International Management, 2017 Vol.11 No.2, pp.227 - 250

Received: 16 Jul 2015
Accepted: 07 Jul 2016

Published online: 20 Feb 2017 *

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