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Coming out ahead while losing a partner: the Thoroughbred industry stays on course

Darcy Fudge Kamal (Assistant Professor of Strategy at California State University – Sacramento, Sacramento, California, USA)
Cristina Nistor (Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing at Chapman University, Orange, California, USA)
Charu Sinha (Clinical Associate Professor of Management Science at Chapman University, Orange, California, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 25 October 2022

Issue publication date: 21 November 2023




In many industries, firms collaborate as business partners, which helps them achieve superior outcomes and ensure survival in a crisis. Business relationships help companies access limited resources, share information and build trust within the community. This paper aims to highlight the strategies that firms can use to adapt to the loss of a business partner.


This study considers qualitative examples from what happens when a business partner disappears in the Thoroughbred horse industry. The authors draw attention to several types of partner loss due to firm bankruptcy, owner death and strategic restructuring.


This paper proposes a framework of strategies for surviving the loss of business partners. Specifically, surviving partners may respond by strategic distancing, relationship self-repair or reconfiguration through asset purchases or mimicry by minimizing exit risks.

Practical implications

The proposed framework can be used by strategists and managers to determine a course of action when faced with the loss of a business partner. Managers can quickly respond to a partner’s exit with the appropriate action to distance their business or stabilize alternate relationships.


The novel framework, informed by examples from the Thoroughbred horse industry, conceptualizes an important theoretical and practical problem. This paper proposes strategies for how businesses react and adapt to survive after losing a business partner.



The authors thank Angela King for research support, and Matthew Selove and Veselina Vracheva for helpful comments. We also thank the review team for useful and constructive comments. All errors remain our own.


Fudge Kamal, D., Nistor, C. and Sinha, C. (2023), "Coming out ahead while losing a partner: the Thoroughbred industry stays on course", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 327-334.



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