Reaching Global Markets by Strategic E-Business Alliances ...
Reaching Global Markets by Strategic E-Business Alliances:
Strategy Formulation and Implementation
This author posits that the success of e-business requires a well-defined and well-formulated
corporate strategy of alliances. E-managers must be able to engage in network thinking, thinking
globally and strategically. This paper reviews and explores various e-business alliance strategies
that are currently employed by e-businesses in various cultural and national backgrounds. The
paper deals with both strategic and operational strategies for e-business alliance and discusses
critically a wide range of issues in the formulation and implementation of e-business alliance
strategies. By resorting to a strategic management approach, this paper helps understand the
complex nature of formulation and implementation of e-business alliance strategy, which may
involve changes to existing business models and procedures of many organizations. The paper
focuses on the strategy of e-business alliances and provides various worked examples and a case
study of e-business alliances in today’s global markets, thereby providing a practical guide to e-
business alliance strategy formation and implementation.
Lu and Choy (2004, p. 288) maintain that “fundamentally, strategic alliances are an externally
oriented business approach emphasizing on improving business performance through the linkages
in a supply network”. Strategic alliances are generally defined as long-term cooperative
arrangements at the strategic level between firms to improve their competitive position and
performance by sharing resources and risks. Dyer et al.’s study showed that cross-firm and cross-
industry strategic alliances have been increasing continuously and dramatically over the past few
years, and that competition tends to be between strategic alliances rather than between individual
firms (Dyer et. at., 2001).
Rowley’s case studies illustrate how important an e-business strategic alliance approach to
reaching global markets is for four world industry leaders: Nestlé, Barnes & Noble, Merrill Lynch
and AOL (Rowley 2002). A survey study of 250 companies in the U. K. that have built electronic
links with their partners, suppliers, customers and the public, shows that around two thirds of
large companies surveyed have established e-business alliance strategies. However, more than 50
percent of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) surveyed have not formed a corporate
strategy for online alliances (Information Age, April 10, 2002). The survey results reveal a serious
problem in the e-business partnership landscape. Companies focusing on leveraging alliance as a
vehicle for value chain creation must take a strategic approach to e-business alliances. It is not
enough to launch a website, rush in an alliance and hope for the best to happen. Given the unique
challenges of the e-business world, strategic planning for alliances in e-business operations has its
distinct features. These are characterized by a short-term orientation in terms of strategy
formulation, everyone being constantly involved in environment scanning and analysis, and a
faster response to environmental change in planning.
Today, it is not uncommon to see that many companies have portfolios of 20 or more alliances
and partnerships and some have over a hundred. In fact, it is reported that about 20-50 per cent of
corporate value has been generated from corporate partnerships (Bamford et al., 2003). In the
frenetically changing competitive landscape of e-business world markets, few organizations can
rely only on their internal strengths to gain a competitive advantage in national and/or
international markets. Even the largest organization’s resources are limited in one way or another,
therefore the formation of strategic e-business alliances is increasingly one of the most popular
strategies available to an organization to on the one hand take advantage of the Internet highway,
and share risks, capabilities and revenue with alliances on the other. Strategic e-business alliances
will be a crucial factor and play a key role in the future development of e-business global
This author posits that the success of e-business requires a well-defined and well-formulated
corporate strategy of alliances. E-managers must be able to think globally and strategically.
Business partnership in whatever form has gone from being a peripheral tool of management to a
centerpiece of corporate strategy and competitive advantage over the past decade (Bamford et al.,
2003). This paper studies e-business alliance from a strategic management perspective because e-
business alliance has become an important component of the strategy of many successful
companies. From a strategic management perspective, e-business partnerships should be strategic
e-business alliances. Strategic management focuses on the process whereby managers develop
and implement strategies for achieving strategic goals within existing conditions, in turn helping
organizations identify and achieve a competitive advantage. By resorting to a strategic
management approach, this paper helps understand the complex nature of formulation and
implementation of e-business alliance strategy, which may involve changes to existing business
models and procedures of many organizations. The paper focuses on the strategy of e-business
alliances and provides various worked examples and a case study of e-business alliances in
today’s global markets, thereby providing a practical guide to e-business alliance strategy
formation and implementation.
E-Business Alliance Strategy
As there is no consensus in the literature and practice about what strategy actually means,
primarily because strategy often means differently in different contexts and to different people,
there are also different versions of an e-business alliance strategy. For example, de Man and der
Zee (2002) defined e-business alliance strategies in terms of the goals pursued by brick-and-
mortar and dotcom companies entering into e-business alliance. Based upon their analysis of over
150 e-business alliances announced in the Financial Times, they found that there were four
different e-business alliance strategies: (i) electronic reimplementation, (ii) experimenting, (iii)
efficient procurement, and (iv) providing solutions. Of the 150 e-partnerships surveyed, 42 per
cent of companies took an electronic reimplementation strategy. That means a bricks-and-mortar
selling current products and/or services on the Internet while still maintaining its traditional
business operations and portfolios. This simple and less risky e-business alliance strategy
provides participating organizations with extra sales channels on the Internet. An experimenting
e-business alliance strategy was the second favourite strategy, chosen by 25 per cent of the
companies surveyed. The strategy concerns developing new and unproven online business models
next to their current business. An online joint venture falls into this category, which aims to
pursue new e-business opportunities while sharing the risks with partners. As the name suggests,
the strategy has more risk than the others. The third strategy, the efficient procurement, refers to
the improvement of procurement efficiency in the supply chain through the use of the Internet.
“Partnering on the basis of this strategy has the advantages of lowering supplier search costs,
lowering prices as a result of joint procurement, or improving information exchange accuracy”
(de Man et al., 2002, p.332). 18 per cent of the companies surveyed chose this strategy. The last
strategy, used by only 15 per cent of the companies surveyed, provides a complete package or
one-stop shopping solutions to e-customers. With this purpose, partnering companies combined
their products and services with complementary offerings to customers. The main benefits of this
strategy lie in its potential for cross-selling and the joint capability to engage in mass
The following mini cases provide a few exemplars of alliance strategies in e-business operations
that are taken by companies. The cases also shed some insight into why the companies resorted to
Snapshot 1: Global eXchange Services and 7thOnline
Global eXchange Services (GXS), based in the United States, is a leading provider of B2B
integration solutions. 7thOnline, also based in the United States, is a provider of web and
application based supply chain solutions targeted towards the buying and planning processes in
the global retail industry. The two companies have had a technology partnership for three years
and recently extended the partnership to a strategic marketing partnership. The partnership aims
to deliver an end-to-end supply chain execution solution for the branded apparel and footwear
market. The partnership is generated on the basis of the expertise of the two companies: GXS’s
data synchronization and supply chain execution solutions, and 7thOnline’s assortment planning
and order placement solutions.
Source: GXS (2004)
Snapshot 2: American Online and Sun Microsystems
A Sun-Netscape Alliance iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions was launched in 1999 by American
Online (AOL) and Sun Microsystems. The strategic alliance aims to provide easy-to-deploy,
comprehensive e-commerce solutions for the Internet economy. It now provides the industry’s
broadest portfolio of Internet infrastructure and e-commerce applications software and services.
Source: Sun Microsystems (2000)
Snapshot 3. Woolworth and Commonwealth Bank
Woolworth Ltd (Australia), one of the largest supermarket chains in Australia, entered into an e-
business alliance with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a leading bank in Australia, to offer
their customers a convenient and simple way of banking on the Internet while shopping online for
Woolworths goods, or simply doing an Internet banking transaction. The joint initiative was
called “Woolworths Ezy Banking”. The banking service is aimed at providing customers with
more choices in financial services and increasing convenience and simplicity in banking.
Woolworths Ezy Banking rewards users with Ezy bonus points to encourage people to use the
banking service. Moreover, the Ezy Banking partnership is not limited to e-commerce, so
customers can get cash out or make deposits while shopping at Woolworths retail stores.
Source: Woolworth (2004)
Formulation of E-Business Alliance Strategy
The absence of a well thought out strategy early on in an alliance may severely jeopardize later
operations of collaboration, leading to failure of an alliance. When formulating a corporate
strategy in general and an e-business alliance strategy in particular, the following list of key
questions should be answered.
In terms of overall corporate strategy, the questions might be:
• What are our short-term and long-term goals?
• What market should we be in?
• Does our organization have the skills, resources and other assets needed to achieve the
• Who are our principal customers, clients, suppliers, and partners?
• What are our principal products and/or services, present and future?
• What are our principal outlets or distribution channels, present and future?
• What is unique about our organization? (Or: What is the core competency of our
• Who are our competitors and what will they be doing in 3-5 years?
• What will our marketplace position be in 3-5 years?
In terms of e-business alliance strategy, the questions can be:
• What is our e-business strategy and to what degree is it effective?
• What impact is an e-partnering strategy expected to have on our whole company?
• Does our e-business alliance strategy align with our e-business strategy and other
• With whom should we partner or network?
• What are the key criteria to use to select our strategic alliances?
• What is the scope of cooperation through the e-business alliances
• What is our operating model for e-business alliances?
• What form or structure will our e-business partnership take?
• What are the potential pitfalls of e-business alliances and how can we address them?
These key questions urge managers to make a competitive analysis which involves both
environmental and organizational scanning and assessments. Most strategists agree that it is
important to undertake the external environment analysis before the internal organizational
analysis in order to reduce possible biases (Mintzberg et al., 1995). The competitive analysis
helps organizations to compare their strengths and weaknesses with those of their competitors in
order to devise an effective strategy for gaining a competitive edge. To survive and sustain in
today’s volatile marketplace, organizations must be able to seize and quickly exploit
opportunities both within traditional and cyberspace businesses. They must have a well-defined
mission, a clear vision and an unambiguous understanding of how they intend to achieve their
organizational goals. If e-business alliance is a necessary means to help achieve the goals, the
formulation of an effective strategy becomes paramount.
The scope of e-business alliances should be a primary consideration in the formulation of the
strategy. An e-business alliance strategy can be one that focuses on only one element of the
businesses such as sales or distribution. This can be termed a functional e-business alliance
strategy. The alliance between IBM and BellSouth is a classic example of e-business alliances
with a clearly defined scope of cooperation, because each company has agreed to a “hands-off”
approach to the other’s core competencies. “It’s all about cooperation as opposed to co-
opetition”, said IBM director in describing the partnership. In the light of the alliance agreement,
BellSouth provides IBM with its Atlanta and Miami data centers and its connectivity. IBM
assumes responsibility for existing e-business services customers in BellSouth’s centers and also
houses any of its own new customers in those markets in the centers. The attractive aspect of the
alliance is that IBM does not have to compete with BellSouth for customers. BellSouth is the
leader in core transport but needs specialized skills in e-business hosting services. IBM was
therefore perceived to be the right alliance in that it has invested $US10 billion in its e-business
on-demand play and developed its own operations system to support the service (Engebretson,
There can be a broader scope of cooperation between participating firms in an alliance who agree
to perform together at multiple stages of the process by which goods or services are brought to
the market: product development, marketing, sales, distribution, etc. This is referred to as a
comprehensive e-business alliance strategy. By taking a comprehensive e-business alliance
strategy, participating firms can combine and consolidate their strengths and resources to get a
competitive advantage. However, integrating the different operating procedures of several
participating firms over a broad range of functional areas can be a great challenge to e-business
E-business alliance strategy has little value in practice if it stands alone. The nexus of e-business
alliance strategy with other strategies of an organization should also be a consideration in the
strategy formulation process. First, the e-business alliance strategy should be an integral part of e-
business strategy if an organization decides to jointly run an e-business or part of the business.
Second, an e-business alliance strategy should have an interface with other organizational
strategies, including corporate strategy, business strategy and functional strategy including
marketing strategy, information systems strategy, operations strategy and R & D strategy.
Thirdly, while an e-business alliance strategy is embedded in organizational strategies, it should
be clearly defined and articulated.
Implementation of E-Business Alliance Strategy
A good e-business alliance strategy requires serious commitment and significant investment of
participating organisations to implement and execute it. Too often, companies enter into an
alliance without giving considerable thought to strategic purpose and the alliance implementation
strategy. Implementation of alliance intent is often far more complicated and difficult than
striking a partnership deal. Even the best alliance strategy can fail if management does not
implement it and evaluate the results of implementation properly. “Corporate strategy is an
organization process, in many ways inseparable from the structure, behaviour, and culture of the
company in which it takes place” (Mintzberg et al. 1995, p.67). Strategy implementation involves
management activities to carry out the strategy, and institute strategic controls for monitoring
progress and the extent to which organizational goals are achieved (Bartol et al., 2001). The same
is true for the implementation of an e-business alliance strategy. The key issues to implement an
e-business alliance strategy include strategic flexibility in the selection of alliances, trust, the four
“Cs” (complementarity, compatibility, capacity and commitment), and a portfolio approach to
alliances. To ensure successful strategy implementation, it is also important to maintain strategic
control of critical environmental factors affecting the viability of strategic plan, and assess the
effects of strategic actions to ensure the strategic plan achieves its goal.
Selection of E-Business Alliances
Given the nature of strategic alliances, selection of e-business alliances (partnering firms in an
alliance) should not only take into account the need for a long-term cooperative relationship at the
strategic level, but the need to have strategic flexibility in order to modify the alliance when the
environment changes, or to exit the alliance when the environment no longer requires one.
Understanding each organization’s dynamics is crucial to the selection as it will help you utilize it
to your own advantage.
With the collapse of a large number of dotcom firms and the subsequent sluggish e-commerce
environment, the e-business model appears to have reverted from that of a new form of doing
business, back to business as usual. For example, large automotive manufacturers are more
careful in selecting partners, focusing not only on their ability to perform electronic transactions
efficiently but also on the quality of their products, delivery time, and the value-added extras they
can bring to the partnerships (Graham, 2001). The success of partnerships, both traditional and
electronic, counts heavily on choosing the right partners. Some of the golden rules for
partnerships that Segil (2004) found indicate that the first partner is not always the best one and
that you should always consider the partners of your partner when evaluating partnership
opportunities. Segil’s study found that successful organizations strive to build a network of
partners rather than bilateral relationships. By doing so, you extend the partnership links to not
only your partners but also your partners’ partners who may include other stakeholders and
players in the supply chain or value chain. One of the most cited reasons for partnership failure is
poor partner choice. Creating a value-adding network of partnership therefore requires a
consistent and systematic approach involving the ranking of each network member for risk and
value, allocating sufficient resources to manage the risks and leveraging the value derived from
the multi-dimensional partnerships. The crucial criteria for selecting the right alliances/partners
are (i) complementarity and compatibility, (ii) core competency, (iii) electronic and technological
capability, (iv) financial commitment, and (v) strong leadership and commitment. The key
questions to be answered when selecting your potential alliances are:
1. Are the skills, capabilities and resources of the prospective partners complementary to those
of our organization?
2. Are the prospective alliances compatible to our organization in terms of management style
and organizational culture? Can we get along with them?
3. How well do the prospective alliances manage other partnerships (track record of
4. Do the prospective alliances have a distinctive strength (core competency) that can be
leveraged to gain a competitive advantage?
5. Are the prospective alliances ready to link up their systems using their e-business
infrastructure and tools?
6. Are the prospective alliances prepared to invest in the e-business partnerships? Do they have
a fiscal future?
7. Do the prospective alliances have a strong leadership team or leader?
8. Most importantly, will the prospective alliances be committed to partnerships?
If the answers to the first three questions are no, it does not necessarily mean that you should
refrain from entering into a partnership. The issue is how to approach these differences and deal
with them jointly from the outset to increase the chances of success in the partnership.
Operational strategies for getting the right alliances include:
• Analyzing prospective alliances and identifying markets that you can enter with them;
• Performing due diligence to examine prospective partners’ business, finance, technical,
product and other operational aspects of fit;
• Understanding your partners’ e-business strategies to match your capabilities to theirs in
the form of a value proposition;
• Getting to your selected alliances fast and early;
• Demonstrating your distinctive strengths which form core competence;
• Showing how creative, proactive and fast you are (Fox, 1999, Bamford et al., 2003).
De Man and der Zee’s (2002) study indicate that the personal element is also a very important
factor in selecting alliances. Trust and confidence in partner’s management and vision often play
a key role in deciding on an alliance. This kind of trust and confidence is often developed through
long time personal contact and relationships between the managers of partnering companies.
Efforts have been made by researchers to develop various facilitating models to help find capable
and trustworthy e-business alliances. For example, Ono et al. (2001, p. 1) created a model they
described as a “trust-based facilitator” for selecting e-business partners. The facilitator “collects
and maintains private “word-of-mouth” trust information as well as capabilities from each user
and uses the information for personalized trust-based facilitation for each user”. The model
proposes trust metrics for e-businesses to calculate over a set of numerical trust values. For
example, on eBay, sellers and buyers can check rating scores of potential partners before trading
as they evaluate each other by providing feedback after their trades.
Complementarity, compatibility, capacity and commitment, the so-called four “Cs”, are crucial to
building and maintaining a productive e-business alliance. Complementarity refers largely to
complementary skills, technologies, human and financial resources. In other words, it is the
tangible and intangible strengths of the potential alliance that can be utilized to strengthen your
workforce and/or financial position to achieve a certain specific objective. Compatibility concerns
the similarities in operating and management structures and communication styles, business
strategies, corporate vision, employees and labour policies, organizational norms, etc. Like
marriage, compatibility is often crucial in the selection of alliances to make sure that partners in
an alliance can get along with each other and sustain the partnership. However, it is not
uncommon that the prospective partnering organizations are in different stages of growth and
lifecycle – some in the developmental stage, some in high growth, and others in decline.
Managing these differences is a significant challenge as it requires different managerial behaviour
and strategies to fit the circumstances. Capacity refers to an organization’s financial,
technological and management ability to contribute significantly to an e-business alliance.
Commitment indicates how much a partner prepares to contribute to an e-partnership. These four
“Cs” should be viewed in an integrative manner in selecting an alliance. The Snapshot 1 above
regarding the strategic alliance between Global eXchange Services and 7thOnline is a good case
in point for the four “Cs”.
A Balanced Portfolio Approach to Alliances
Developing a balanced portfolio approach is a popular e-business alliance strategy of many
companies such as Yahoo!, Covisint, and eBay. A balanced alliance portfolio has several
advantages. It can provide a variety of complementary partnerships to strengthen a company’s
network position through increasing and expanding its variety of products and services. It serves
as a buffer to mitigate the damage caused by the loss of one alliance if the partnership goes sour,
and it can also consolidate the independent status of your company by not over-relying on one
alliance. The portfolio approach may increase the bargaining power of a company in negotiating
prices or stabilizing the prices and better services. Other advantages of the approach may include
more market opportunities, expanded customer base brought in by partners, reduction of
competition, and gaining access to more social capital. Social capital is often viewed as the sum
of the actual and potential resources derived from a network of relationships possessed both by
individuals and organizations. However, there is a need to standardize the processes for selection
of portfolio partners that span the supply chain to ensure transparency and consistency. The
Snapshot below indicates a balanced portfolio approach to alliances taken by the pharmaceutical
Snapshot: Pharmaceutical Industry and Internet Service Provider
E-business alliances between the pharmaceutical industry and electronic connectivity providers
are prevalent, particularly in the United States. Both pharmacy retailers and e-prescription
connectivity providers are aggressively pursuing as many connectivity partnerships as possible
due to their common objectives. Pharmacies want to gain access to physicians, no matter what
type of connectivity service they are using, whereas connectivity providers want to give their
physician users and their patients as much flexibility as possible to connect to the pharmacies of
their choice. For instance, Seattle-based CVS.com entered e-prescription partnerships with three
connectivity providers, while Bellevue, a Washington-based drugstore.com collaborated with a
dozen leading physician connectivity companies and one major application service provider to
support and enhance a single protocol for the transmission of prescriptions over the Internet.
Source: Getting Connected (2000)
Case Study of E-Business Alliance Strategy
Realestate.com.au (REA) is Australia's leading provider of online media and advertising services
to the Australian real estate industry. Launched in 1997, the REA portal is Australia's most
comprehensive and most popular source of real estate listings and information, with information
and listings on share accommodation, home and apartments for rent, first home purchase, homes
and apartments for sale, investment properties, second lifestyle homes and retirement living. At
the end of 2003, two-thirds of Australian real estate offices had bought an REA subscription,
while in August 2004 the website received over 1.1 million visitors, consisting of just over 1
million Australian and 113,000 international visitors. The company has offices throughout
Australia and currently has 120 employees. Realestate.com.au reported a net profit of $AU2.48
million for 2003/04 compared with a loss of $AU1.54 million in the previous year, with revenue
rising to $AU19.15 million from $AU9.54 million.
The company has three additional business units; realestate.com.au, realcommercial.com.au,
realestate.com.au Web Design Services and realestate.com.au Home Loans. Launched in
December 2002, realcommercial.com.au is Australia’s most popular site for commercial and
industrial property and for businesses for sale. In June 2004, 35,000 Australian and international
visitors used the site to search through 18,000 properties listed by 190 commercial agents.
Realestate.com.au Web Design Services is one of Australia's leading web development
businesses. Leveraging the technology that powers realestate.com.au, Web Design Services has
built or powers over 2,000 web sites for Australian real estate agencies. In addition, the
realestate.com.au Web Design Services powers the Ray White Property Group corporate site and
the Raine & Horne Queensland site. Realestate.com.au Home Loans is a 50:50 joint venture with
Ray White Property Group and is now one of Australia's largest mortgage broking groups,
providing an expert home loan service with access to more than 300 mortgage products from over
30 lenders. The business currently has a loan book of over $AU300 million. It uses team of
mobile sales agents working closely with residential real estate agents to sell mortgages. The
team also captures leads directly from the REA website.
The realestate.com.au’s corporate strategy and ensuing success have been driven by strategic
alliances. Some of these include:
• Murdoch's News Corporation owns a 44 per cent stake in the company, after making an
investment in REA in 2000. As a result the companies collaborate on the sale of
advertisements (e.g. News Corporation bundles REA advertising space into packages
with other channels) to provide a significant revenue stream for both companies.
• REA Web Design Services is a 50:50 joint venture with the real estate group Ray White.
REA also provide Ray White with hosting services using the REA technology.
• REA provides a property search facility to a number of Australian finance companies and
banks’ websites, including ANZ, NAB and Bankwest, and other companies such as
Ninemsn.com.au and the Herald Sun newspaper.
• In 2001 Destra’s Internet hosting division Ozhosting.com acquired REA’s web hosting
business and also became the exclusive web-hosting partner for REA.
• Australian Property Monitors (APM) and REA entered into an agreement to promote and
sell APM's Home Price Guide range of real estate information products to consumers
through the realestate.com.au website. The Home Price Guide is Australia's leading
national source of online property sales information to the consumer, professional and
• REA entered a 50:50 joint venture with eMOCA, an Australasian mortgage brokers
association, to form REA Home Loans services. eMOCA is also the new administrative
body for Ray White Financial Services.
• REA has developed strong relationships with the majority of the Australian major real
estate networks. These relationships include the implementation of data feeds from
group Websites to the REA site, the recommendation of REA by head office to their
franchisees and the introduction of a discounted subscription rate.
• REA has attempted to foster more than a supply relationship with their real estate office
customers, by actively collaborating with them to identify end-customer needs, and
therefore enhance the service they provide to them. The company also provides free
training and education programs on online marketing and advertising, and to date 5,000
real estate industry people have attended an REA seminar.
As shown above, REA has built a portfolio of well-planned and strategically focused alliances in
order to enhance their core offerings, and provide further insight into the market. The governance
of REA partnerships is determined by the business area to which it belongs. For example, content
distribution is managed under an online marketing manager. In this manner, the company has
identified owners of the partnership, who subsequently manage the process, rather than having
one centralized management team for all REA partnerships. Mr. Simon Baker, the CEO, likens a
business built on partnerships to “a deck of cards” – if one falls down, the rest follow. In addition,
he does not believe partnerships in the online or offline environments differ. For example, it has
been suggested that one of the vital characteristics of an e-business alliance is speed, however
Simon argues that all smart businesses should work with speed, regardless of their business
The experiences of REA have demonstrated that there are a number of key elements vital to the
success of e-business alliances. These include having common goals with clear benefits on both
sides, and unambiguously communicated at the outset of the partnership, mutual trust,
verification, constant monitoring of the partnership and allocation of people internally to manage
it, and having a clear dispute resolution processes. Alliance failure is however likely to occur
when there are misaligned goals, if a partner attempts to use ‘strong arm’ tactics over another, or
if there is an inability to execute the deal. For instance, some years ago REA bought a 50 per cent
of share in their New Zealand equivalent. However, the management at the time did not actively
manage the investment, or attempt to guide the business. As a result, the NZ business pursued its
own goals, which were misaligned with those of REA and the alliance failed to produce a
favorable return for REA. (Source: www. realestate.com.au (REA) and Interviews with the CEO)
This paper reviews and explores various e-business alliance strategies that are currently employed
by e-businesses in various cultural and national backgrounds. The paper deals with both strategic
and operational strategies for e-business alliance and discusses critically a wide range of issues in
the formulation and implementation of e-business alliance strategies. Given the diversity and
complexity of e-business operations, the paper presents a number of empirical studies concerning
key issues of e-business alliance strategies.
There is a general belief in the current literature that e-business allows a lesser degree of strategic
alliance planning because of the uncertainties and lack of knowledge associated with e-businesses
(de Man and der Zee 2002). Fox (1999, p.26) attempted to justify the belief, saying that in an e-
business environment, “partnerships must move at Internet speed. There is no time to sit back, do
a lengthy partner and market analysis, and develop and implement a highly defined go-to-market
plan. In the e-business world, it is launch and learn or be left in the dirt”. It is a well-known fact
that many dotcom firms are not fond of a strategic management approach, especially in the earlier
period of dotcom hysteria period, and adhere to a launch-and-learn mentality. However, the quick
demise of a myriad of dotcom firms challenges the rush-in mentality and indicates the importance
of strategic planning and management. Strategic approach is an approach to dealing with change
and turbulent environments particularly in the globalization of markets. It encourages and does
not adverse change.
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