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Alliance Governance: Balancing Trust and Control in Dealing with Risk

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Every alliance requires that at the outset there are ways and means to establish sufficient trust for the parties to share information fully and to make timely decisions regarding joint investments ...

Every alliance requires that at the outset there are ways and means to establish sufficient trust for the parties to share information fully and to make timely decisions regarding joint investments and activities. Additionally, there are always times during the life cycle of an alliance when trust is challenged (key people change, surprises happen, partners become complacent and let communications lapse, etc.). So how do alliance managers develop and preserve a sufficient level of trust and deal with situations where trust erodes and needs to be shored up again?

When designing an alliance governance structure, managers have to choose between approaches based on control or on trust. This presentations proposes a framework to help managers decide which of the two is appropriate in a particular situation. Are control and trust substitutes or complements? What is the link between control, trust and risk? Our approach proposes that whether control and trust are substitutes or complements depends on the level and type of risk an alliance faces. In high risk situations companies use complex combinations of control and trust in a complementary way.

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