The notion of bounded rationality is used to consider strategic alliances with a view of providing an insight into the presumptive reasons for action in choosing strategic alliance partners. The research methodology used is one of a realist approach (after Stiles, 1995) and a discerning of patterns (after Tesch, 1990) in thematic interviews. The discussion examines the issue and concludes that bankers, when entering into strategic alliances, do not consider every option. That is they use filters to reduce the potential choice; thus the range of possible alliance partners is restricted in many ways, some of these being unconsciously employed. Furthermore, it is clear that, while bankers consider margins, ratios and percentages, relationships have a pre‐eminent place in strategic alliances and that relationships are poised between ends and means to ends.
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