Relational risk perception and alliance management in French biotechnology SMEs

Hélène Delerue (Laboratoire CREPA, Université Paris Dauphine, Paris, France)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Strategic alliances are often described as risky, dangerous, and instable. When firms adopt these strategies, they are confronted with a relational risk. Nevertheless, little empirical work has been down on relational risk in alliances. For this reason, this research is founded and constructed on two principal questions: what is relational risk? And how is this risk to be managed?


From a methodological point of view, neither one paradigm nor the other concerning previous research was favoured. The process of the empirical research is based on an inductive non‐demonstrative step. It was carried out in two phases. Firstly, exploratory research was aimed at complementing previous research and formulating hypotheses. These hypotheses were tested with survey data on 87 partnerships of French biotechnology firms.


The results demonstrate the multidimensional character of relational risk and the duality of relational control. Relational control includes autonomous control and informal control.

Research limitations/implications

Nevertheless, this research adopts a static perspective. It is known that alliances evolve, and develop. Consequently, future research should include the interactive process to understand how these two forms of management – autonomous and informal – evolve and in what cases they complement themselves.

Practical implications

From a managerial point of view, the results emphasize the need to be aware of existing dynamics between systems of control and relational risk perceptions.


This research proposes an empirical study of risk management model in alliance relationships and demonstrates the importance to adopt a multidimensional view of relational risk.



Delerue, H. (2005), "Relational risk perception and alliance management in French biotechnology SMEs", European Business Review, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 532-546.

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