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Behavioral attributes and performance in international strategic alliances: Review and future directions

Matthew J. Robson (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Dionysis Skarmeas (University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece)
Stavroula Spyropoulou (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 1 November 2006




The aim of this study is to provide a methodical, analytical, and focused review of international strategic alliance (ISA) studies examining empirically behavioral attributes' performance outcomes.


This study centers on an integrative analysis of 41 studies investigating the performance relevance of behavioral attributes. After developing a conceptual framework, which included two categories of these attributes – relationship capital (i.e. trust and commitment) and exchange climate (i.e. cooperation, communication, and conflict reduction) – the methodologies of the studies were profiled and their empirical findings aggregated. The accumulated effect of each behavioral attribute on performance and extent to which this effect varies in relation to ISA geographic location and type and study operating period was examined.


The review suggests that while there are direct links between behavioral aspects and alliance performance, the strength of these varies across the two categories. Of the relationship capital and exchange climate aspects, commitment and cooperation, respectively, prove most consistently positively linked to performance. Still, the results for all the behavioral attributes appear more consistent when taking the study context into consideration.

Research limitations/implications

Empirical research on behavioral attributes' links to alliance performance is still at an early stage of development and assertions concerning relationship management offering the key to ISA success are somewhat premature. Improvements need to be made in terms of conceptualizations, research designs, and analytical techniques used if the field is to build concrete theory on the subject.

Practical implications

It would appear that the behavioral paradigm can be relied on to pay‐off in alliances involving only DC partner firms and/or a cooperative agreement structure, but should be applied more cautiously and selectively in LDC‐DC and/or formal joint venture partnerships.


This is the first review exercise focused on providing fine‐grained insights covering the complexity of the burgeoning literature on the behavioral paradigm's performance relevance in ISAs.



Robson, M.J., Skarmeas, D. and Spyropoulou, S. (2006), "Behavioral attributes and performance in international strategic alliances: Review and future directions", International Marketing Review, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 585-609.



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