Partner Type Diversity in Alliance Portfolios: Multiple Dimensions, Boundary Conditions and Firm Innovation Performance

John Hagedoorn, Boris Lokshin, Ann-Kristin Zobel

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Our research extends the current knowledge based view on the configuration of alliance portfolios and their deployment in different external knowledge environments. We study these alliance portfolios in a longitudinal sample (1996-2010) for over three thousand firms that operate in a large number of industries in the Netherlands. Our findings indicate that partner type variety and partner type relevance, as different dimensions of partner diversity in alliance portfolios, both have an inverted U-shaped association with firm innovation performance. However, alliance portfolios characterized by both high partner type variety and high relevance cause inferior innovation performance. Different external knowledge environments, characterized by different levels of industry modularity and scope of knowledge distribution, moderate the inverted U-shaped associations of partner type variety and relevance in alliance portfolios with firm innovation performance in opposing directions. While for partner type variety, a high level is found to be optimal in environments with greater modularity or broader scope of knowledge distribution, for partner type relevance it turns out that a low level is optimal under more modular industry conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-836
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number5
Early online date23 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • alliance portfolios, portfolio diversity, knowledge-based view, innovation performance, industry contingencies

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