Classroom audience

“Network Advantage: How to Unlock Value from Your Alliances and Partnerships” is written for participants in MBA, Masters of Management, and Executive Education programs. The book is especially useful for learners interested in innovation, strategic alliances, partnerships and competitive advantage. It can be used as a part of a core strategy course, a corporate strategy course, a course on innovation or a course on managing partnerships and strategic alliances.

The book takes a distinct network perspective on competitive advantage and illustrates several key concepts:

  • The impact of individual alliances, partnerships and their portfolios on the firms’ competitive advantage (Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2).
  • The role of complementarity and compatibility between partners for the formation of successful alliances and partnerships (Chapter 3)
  • Differential impact of the “hub and spoke” alliance portfolios and “integrated” alliance portfolios on competitive advantage. The two portfolio types represent inter-organizational networks rich in structural holes and dense inter-organizational networks, respectively (Chapter 4 and Chapter 5).
  • The role of organizational status in the attainment of competitive advantage (Chapter 6 and Chapter 7)
  • Should the firm build its own alliance portfolio or join a portfolio built by another firm (Chapter 8)
  • How to improve information flows inside the firm to attain competitive advantage from alliances and partnerships (Chapter 10).
  • Most chapters introduce tools that participants can use to develop collaboration strategy for their businesses. The tools are compiled at the end of the book (Appendix 2).

If an MBA/EMBA strategy core course instructor wants to illustrate the role of alliance portfolios in the attainment of competitive advantage, the instructor can assign Ch. 1 and 2.

Many MBA/EMBA/Executive Education corporate strategy courses are built around the need to solve the growth dilemmas for the firms. Should the firms develop their resources and capabilities internally, should they acquire them by engaging in M&As or should they collaborate through alliances and partnerships?  The book shows show to build effective alliance portfolios (Ch 1, 2, 4 and 5), once executives have chosen the collaboration path.

An MBA/EMBA/Executive Education course on innovation can benefit from this book, because the book shows how different types of alliance portfolios—hub and spoke vs. integrated—can be used to drive different types of innovations (Ch 1, 2, 4 and 5). Hub and spoke portfolios are best at producing radical innovations (e.g. iphone by Apple) while integrated portfolios are best at producing more incremental process innovations (e.g. Toyota’s cars).

An MBA/EMBA/Executive Education course on managing partnerships and strategic alliances can adopt the whole book, which helps participants to gradually develop a collaboration strategy by moving from thinking about individual relationships, to designing effective alliance portfolios to managing organizational status. The book can be taught in a single day (8 hours of classroom time and individual work) or over day and a half (12 hours of classroom time and individual work). The single day format can cover material in Ch. 1-7, the day and a half format can cover additional material in Ch. 8-10.