Review of a journal article 4

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Topic: Review of a journal article

Literature review of journal article “Competition for competence and interpartner learning within international strategic alliances” Strategic management journal, 12(S1), 83-103. By Hamel, G. (1991).


This article seeks to review literature of journal articles that focus on competition for competence. It begins by giving a summary of “Competition for competence and interpartner learning within international strategic alliances”, a journal article by Gary Hamel. Of a particular concern of the author was the role of strategic alliances in partial affection of expertise reallocation among associates. The objective of the research was development of a theory as opposed to extension of theory. The methodology used was conduction of interviews with seventy four individuals from eleven companies. Case based research was conducted on five different companies from Japan and Europe. They were selected under same competitive advantage criterion in terms of their competitive advantage, popularity, media attention and economic output. From the research, the author acquired arguments on the aspects determining learning in strategic alliances. A review of literature of various authors who agree with his arguments is outlined. In addition, the authors’ differing with his arguments were not left behind. An analysis of possible evidences of the antagonistic authors is outlined. The significance of the article towards the knowledge of the author is described in the last pieces of this essay. Finally, a complex sum up of the review of the journal is explained in the end of this paper.

Summary of the author’s main arguments

Hamel focuses on the purpose of having strategic alliances in redistribution of skills among associates. In his theoretical development research, he identifies the key findings in his research He argues that collaborations are essential in partner learning. However, if the collaboration is turned in to competition, then antagonistic issues may arise among the managers. This is because of one partner’s goal is to win the skills of the other in order to outshine them, then the partnership is likely to hit rock bottom once they have accomplished their goal. His second main argument is based on learning and bargaining power. From the competitive collaboration, once one partner gains power over the other, then they have a higher bargaining power. From his case study, a European company had entered into a partnership with a Japanese company. The European company outsourced spare parts from Japan and established a manufacturing company. During the partnership period, they maximized the skills of the Japanese who made their company grow. He argues that for successful learning, there ought to be an intent aimed at reaping competence related competitiveness as opposed to product based. The bargaining power of the Europe company grew each day as they learned new skills. Consequently, the Japanese company was low due to the fact that much was learned from the so fast before they even got ready to learn. However, the race cannot be maintained by learning the skills alone since innovativeness of the other company remains intact.

Transparency among partners was argued as a key factor. However, some partners were more open than others which limited access to information by the other partner. This was determined by the discrete nature of the partner’s skills, ease with which the environment surrounding the organization was penetrable and perception of outsiders. The capacity to learn the ideas with which an organization is transparent with is dependent on receptivity (Barney, 1991). The nature of the receiving end is the key determining factor. Inclusive learning which ensures active participation from the individuals ensures ease with which they grasp the ideas. On the other hand, the top down approach limits the ability to argue and express viewpoints. This is seen to correlate with the intent because the perception of a partnership by employees determines their ability and mode of receiving new ideas and internalizing them. The reception of information depends on the ability of the individual to grasp information first. The readiness of the company is also key factor. Have they set up new equipment to facilitate the process? Hiring of new expertise and laying strategies on how to achieve is essential. Finally, he argues that the sustainability of learning is determined by the easiness with which a partner counterparts the other partners rate of progress over a certain duration of time in future since their innovative nature is dynamic.

Hamel sums up his research by identifying two main contrivances essential and key in realization of value which entail bargaining and internalization of partner’s skills. The two are interdependent in that the in case one fails especially the competitive power, the bargaining power with its great ability to pick up ideas as seen in his case studies. It always lifted the Japanese companies when the European companies tried to drain their already invented skills.

Literature review

According to Janczak 2008, the dynamic nature of the business arena in the current world calls for diversification of in the ways issues are viewed. He argues that even though much has been done as far as problem solving and routines are concerned, there is need to broaden their horizons in sought for competence. This can be well achieved through collaboration with partners. He agrees with Hamel’s argument on bargaining power. He points out that erosion of power initially vested on the partnership is experienced if one partner learns before the other. Just as Hamel’s research had revealed that if one partner learnt the skills of the other early, it would result to impedance of the other. Therefore, there is shift on bargaining power and one partner is likely to be more powerful than the other. According to Steensma et al. 2004, as cited by Janczak 2008, the less powered organization may instill efforts to regain power which may not be positively perceived by the other partner. This may cause unnecessary conflicts which may interfere with the normal information flow. He also supports Hamel’s argument that successful competitive advantage can be realized through learning the innovation strategies which can only be achieved through constructive collaboration. He expresses the need to intensely explore the processes in the partner’s context in order to reap a transformational knowledge acquisition.

Ferreira et al., 2014, the rational for committing into a partnership with an organization is key to leaning. This translates to Hamel’s argument on the essence of intent. Ferreira et al. support this by stating its essence in outcome since much attention is usually focused to it by not only employees but also the mangers. They support the correlation between focusing on value creation and the intensity of the competitive advantage over the other partner.

Dussauge et al., 2002 in their research argue that firms with a link competence background do better than scale ones. This is contrast with Hamel’s belief that acquisition of skills from which argue that asymmetrical collaboration are likely to lead to unilateral instead of bilateral collaborations. The authors research show that asymmetrical collaborations characterized by link alliances have a higher competitive advantage. This is because the companies will always have something new to learn from each other and their innovative rates will continue to grow and expand. They provided evidence from their research which suggest that since asymmetrical alliances are created by diverse partners, they create flourishing environment for learning to take place. Despite its results complementing previous research, the evidence is not convincing enough due to the limiting factors which do not elaborate the effectiveness of asymmetrical collaborations.

This article adds value to the student’s knowledge with regard to aspects essential in interpartner learning. It has elaborated with its findings how the aspects of learning are intertwined. The intent of getting into a partnership or rather collaboration determines how much bargaining power one will have against the partner. In addition, intention and conceptualization of a collaboration will determine the receptivity of the ideas by the employees. This in return determines the sustainability of the knowledge acquired.

The author of this essay would like to reconsider various aspects in the article and study them. She has limited knowledge on research methods and data analysis. She also needs to broaden her skills on the analysis of the essence of internalizing the innovative skills. How can collaboration be used as the key factor without causing any form of conflict from the competing partner. The necessity for a higher bargaining power in order to have a higher competitive advantage in the business market.


In summary, strategic alliances are crucial in business development. In order to acquire competitive advantage, there are aspects of learning which ought to be possessed. These have been highlighted with regard to the research done by Hamel. He amassed various methods of data collection in order to acquire concrete information. Interviews were conducted among employees in various companies. Case studies were incorporated in pursuit to get information on the aspects of learning. The main arguments presented in the article are collaborative competition. The key point in this argument is that, the purpose of getting into a collaboration should not be to compete for a product but gain a competitive advantage. The essence of internalizing the skills obtained from the partners. Since some partners display total transparency, it is easy for the partner to copy from them, however, learning the skills is different from keeping at the pace of the partner’s ability to innovate. Ideally, if a partner benchmarks on another and learns their existing tactics on ensuring competence, that alone is not a guarantee that even in the following years that they will be in a position to beat them. Instead, they increase their creativity and speed with innovation since their skills are already being utilized elsewhere.

The receptivity of the concepts learnt from the competitor by employees cuts across the intents and goals set aside before the commencement with the partnership. Clearly set goals towards the development is essential to act as a constant reminder to the employees regarding the partnership. The ability to grasp the skills is also dependent on the sense of confidence and self-appreciation by the employees.

The literature review provides and analysis of past research which argue in conduction with Hamel’s finding. Janczak has a diverse viewpoints which agree with Hamel’s arguments especially the essence of productive collaboration and increased bargaining power as key in inter-partner learning. The opposing argument appears to be one which has its own limitations. The student acknowledges the essentiality of the article since it has improved her knowledge on case study and the various learning aspects in partnership.

From the literature review, the writer notes with great concern that there exists minimal studies and critiques towards Hamel’s work which was done a decade ago. A little more research and analysis of his findings with regard to today’s contemporary society will provide readers with diversified knowledge and basis for their review work.

With regard to the findings of Hamel, large companies with a pool of resources were in disbelief that they need any collaboration with upcoming companies. In my own opinion, the size of the company may not matter per se, but the knowledge and skills possessed by the organization are key. The goals and driving powers of a company are key in determining how powerful its skills can be of use to a huge company. For further studies, the writer recommends the need to use more diversified methods of data collection by the researcher. These will ensure diversification of data and reliability. More research should be done on the internalization of skills and collaborative measures which can be enacted to tap the innovative threads of a partner.


Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of management, 17(1), 99-120.

Dussauge, P., Garrette, B., & Mitchell, W. (2002). The market-share impact of inter-partner learning in alliances: evidence from the global auto industry. Cooperative strategies and alliances, 707-727.

Ferreira, M. P., Storopoli, J. E., & Serra, F. R. (2014). Two decades of research on strategic alliances: Analysis of citations, co-citations and themes researched. Revista de Administração Contemporânea, 18(SPE), 109-133.

Hamel, G. (1991). Competition for competence and interpartner learning within international strategic alliances. Strategic management journal, 12(S1), 83-103.

Janczak, S. (2008). Knowledge and learning in strategic alliances: How to learn with cooperation. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 6(1), 39-47.