Which Club Does Your Alliance Belong to? an Empirical Classification of Strategic Alliances in Post-Transition Hungary*

Article excerpt

The article focuses on possible typologies of strategic alliance. The first section gives a brief overview of the major groupings of alliances followed by the detailed description of strategic alliance history in Hungary. Former alliance theories were not able to describe sufficiently the characteristics of Hungarian strategic alliances because those theories origin in the business environment of western economies. The author presents a new classification of strategic alliances of post-transitional Hungary based on empirical researches. Three new groups arise, namely ,,cautious partner", ,,members only club" and ,,waiting for the white knight".

Der folgende Beitrag hat die Typologisierung van strategischen Allianzen zum Thema. Im ersten Teil werden die wichtigsten Modelle zur Einordnung von Allianzen vorgestellt, anschlieflend wird das Umfeld sowie die Entwicklung von Unternehmenskooperationen in Ungarn erörtert. Da jedoch alle bisherigen Klassifizierungsmodelle in erster Linie dem westlichen Wirtschaftsumfeld entspringen, konnen diese die Besonderheiten ungarischer Unternehmenspartnerschaften nicht ausreichend beschreiben. Der Autor präsentiert eine neue, auf umfassenden empirischen Studien fundierte Einteilung der strategischen Allianzen im Post-transitionsland Ungarn, so entstehen die drei neuen Gruppen: "Sicher ist Sicher", ,,Der Members-Only Klub" sowie ,,Die Traumtanzer".

Key words: Strategic alliances / strategic management / organisational change / post-transition economies / empirical research,

1. Introduction1

Over the last one or two decades research into the phenomenon or seeming contradiction of cooperating competitors, that is strategic alliances, has highly proliferated. This article is to test the validity of the western models describing strategic alliances within the Central European region (Hungary) during the transition years of the late 1990's. On a more fundamental note, the basic issue raised in this paper is the transferability and appropriateness of western management models to the Central European region.

The goal of this paper is to empirically research the validity of western typologies of strategic alliances. Alternatively, the goal is to explore whether observed alliances can be better regrouped along other, newly defined dimensions.

The methodology chosen for the present research was to collect a representative, large-scale database of companies engaged in strategic cooperations, whilst the appropriate unit of observation was chosen to be the given strategic alliance. Factor analysis was used for better describing the numerous characteristics of the observed alliances along fewer, new dimensions. In the second step cluster analysis was used to create groups of strategic alliances based on their relative closeness to each other. Thus we obtained an operational number of groups of alliances. In the third step both findings were combined to create a new typology and so to interpret the new clusters of strategic alliances with the help of the newly found explanatory dimensions.

This paper is structured in following sections. First, the most common western typologies and models describing strategic alliances are introduced. Second, alliances are explored in the Hungarian context, whilst great emphasis is placed on demonstrating their roots in the national state-system (such as monolithic corporations, forced and not market-based economic exchange mechanism). Hungarian and Central European economic and management context of the 1990's in general can be characterised by the influx of western business strategies and management approaches. This flow is the second stream which strongly influenced the development of strategic alliances in Hungary. This fact raises the fundamental question of this paper: did all that influx affect the types of alliances observed in Hungary? In how far did they differ from those described in western academic literature? …