Alliance portfolio diversity: A Study of the Impact of Multilevel Factors on the Diversity in Pharmaceutical Multinational Corporations’ Alliance Portfolios

Helena Elisabeth Harton Reichwald

Student thesis: Master thesis


Many companies apply cooperative strategies to attain competitive advantage and are, as a consequence hereof, often engaged in multiple simultaneous alliances, constituting an alliance portfolio. Whilst numerous research scientists have explored the topic of strategic alliances, alliance portfolio research remains limited and existing literature is primarily dominated by empirical studies of the relation between portfolio diversity and performance. These limitations to existing literature induce opportunities for further research and have inspired this research thesis to investigate the very driving forces of diversity in alliance portfolios, which represents a, at present, relatively unexplored topic. Specifically, in conformation to the assumption that strategic alliances and, hence, alliance portfolios are naturally embedded in a multilevel context and that this context will have influence on portfolio diversity, this thesis explores the impact of multilevel factors on the diversity in pharmaceutical multinational corporations’ alliance portfolios. In continuation hereof, this thesis demonstrates the complex and multilevel nature of alliance portfolios by applying the pharmaceutical industry to exemplify how factors at different levels influence portfolio diversity. Analysis of the multilevel context of alliance portfolios has enabled this author to identify a number of factors at the industry-, country-, and company-level, respectively, that may affect the diversity in the alliance portfolios of pharmaceutical companies. These identified factors have been applied in developing a number of propositions on the causal effects of multilevel factors on portfolio diversity and, subsequently, these propositions have been applied in developing a framework for predicting the diversity in pharmaceutical companies’ alliance portfolios. In order to descriptively and tentatively ‘test’ the propositions and, thus, the framework, empirical observations of 27 pharmaceutical multinational corporations and their alliances are introduced and lay the foundation for a discussion on multilevel complexity, which addresses the simultaneous influences that the multilevel factors induce. Generally, this research thesis serves to advance the alliance portfolio research field by offering an integrated, multilevel approach to analyzing and predicting alliance portfolio diversity. Moreover, this thesis serves to provide strategic directions for managers operating within the pharmaceutical industry by drawing attention to both the opportunities and challenges of cooperation and the many factors that have to be incorporated in the cooperative strategies that are to enable these industry players to attain multiple goals through a number of simultaneous alliances.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages72