Alliance Governance: (how) does it work in your alliances?

What is alliance governance
In “Alliance Advantage” Alliance Governance is by Yves Doz and Gary Hamel described as: “Alliance Governance defines how an alliance is managed, how it is organized and regulated by agreements and processes, and how the partners control and influence its evolution and performance over time”.

In other words, governance is the system that defines how the alliance is organized and managed. A system that manages the risks in alliance performance through a balance of trust and control.

Strategic alliances are in general established for the long term. As the two (or more) partners are independent companies with each their own company culture a system is needed to govern the alliance. A system that defines how the companies work together, how reporting takes place and to who and how often meetings take place.

Alliance governance in a three layer system.
The governance system is often built around a three layer system, where each of the partners is represented in the Executive Steering Committee, Governance board and in the project teams. This three layer system is also minimizing the risk of failing resources at one of the partners when one of the alliance team members moves on to a new role. It rarely happens that all three levels move on at the same time and thus continuity is guaranteed in the governance of the alliance.

Depending on the size of the organizations involved in the alliance the size of the committees and boards may vary. In some cases, the governance board will only exist of the alliance managers on each side that will work closely with the team leader(s) for the partnership.

Two kinds of views on governance.
For another paper, I have been reading and searching about alliance governance and meet in general two kinds of documents. One describing the governance structure and why it should work. A well-known example is the paper of Ard-Pieter de Man describing the balance of trust and control. The other kind of papers that I find describe what’s wrong with alliance governance and why it does not work. Leadership or lack thereof and changing environments whereas the alliance is no longer a single entity but part of a network provide causes for this failure of governance and often therefore failure of the alliance.

(How) does it work in your alliances?
How does the governance system work in your alliance(s)? Is it formalized, does it work, or do you feel there is room for improvement?


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