International competition, the rapid pace of technological development, the escalating cost of research and development, truncated shelf life, the ability through information technology to evaluate the cost of poor quality, abbreviated product development cycles, all combine to create an environment for the accelerated growth of customer‐service alliances. In reviewing the forces behind these alliances, the article outlines the need for a systematic model outlining the stages of growth involved in such alliances. After exploring marriage and new job management integration as potential models, the article examines the validity of a proven model from the natural sciences as a means to manage customer‐service alliances better. The model outlines both the four critical stages of growth – sparse, confluent, aligned, fused – and the medium necessary if the alliance is to flourish.
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