The evolutionary phases of knowledge transfer and inter-organizational competitive advantage in Finnish-Chinese strategic alliances in the diagnostics industry

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Helsinki University of Technology | Diplomityö
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Yritysstrategia ja kansainvälinen liiketoiminta
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Globalization has changed and will continue to shape the ways firms carry out their profit-seeking activities. However, going it alone into a new country or business sector is always full of unpredictable risks. A possible way to lower such risks is to form alliances and networks. Among various motivations to do so, technology transfer is one of the most important, especially in a cross-border context. But, alliance also has a high failure rate. Why? What is in pre- and post-formation alliances dynamics to affect its success? How does knowledge transfer take place across the borders between partners with different cultural and social backgrounds? How should partners learn in such processes to improve their alliance management capability in order to create and sustain the inter-organizational competitive advantage (Dyer and Singh, 1998)? These issues are of great interest both to organization and strategic management theorists and decision-makers and practitioners in every day alliance management. The inspiration and motivation of this thesis also come from these questions. The aim of the study is to add some knowledge from a new theoretical perspective to the understanding of cross-cultural alliance management with knowledge transfer as an important initiative in the forming and evolution of alliances. On top of that, reflection on the past gives us opportunities to learn in real life situations. From what has been shown in the case study, the researcher hopes to bring new thoughts to both Finnish and Chinese managers in their future roles in day-to-day cross-border alliance management. These two aims eventually form also the theoretical and managerial contributions of this study. Theoretically, it is an attempt to study the relational view (Dyer and Singh, 1998) in an integrated and dynamic framework with concepts of knowledge transfer, learning, relational behaviour change and alliance performance. Managerially, the researcher believes that in a company's evolution, a strategic vision, including that for alliances, is anyhow important; no matter it is related to a particular alliance or not. Thus, the researcher proposes from her Chinese perspectives that, it is better off for western companies to have a vision to treat their alliances in China as a window to the whole market and a learning-and-unlearning opportunity with the local partners. The gaining and sustaining of inter-organizational competitive advantage actually comes from such a vision.
Lamberg, Juha-Antti
Thesis advisor
Pajunen, Kalle
knowledge transfer, inter-organizational competitive advantage, China
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