Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

Jinlin Zhao

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Sumit Kundu

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Joseph West

Fourth Advisor's Name

William Schneper

Fifth Advisor's Name

William Newburry


Strategic Alliance, Alliance Portfolio, Alliance Portfolio Configuration, Alliance Portfolio Diversity, Firm Performance, Internationalization, Alliance Portfolio Strategy, Foreign Expansion, Real Options, Strategic Decision Making

Date of Defense



This dissertation focused on an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in today’s global business environment—strategic alliance portfolio. Building on resource-based view, resource dependency theory and real options theory, this dissertation adopted a multi-dimensional perspective to examine the performance implications, strategic antecedents of alliance portfolio configuration, and its strategic effects on firms’ decision-making on their continuing foreign expansion.

The dissertation consisted of three interrelated essays, each of which dealt with a specific research question. In the first essay I applied a two-dimensional construct that embraces both alliance relations’ and alliance partners’ attributes to illustrate alliance portfolio configuration. Based on this framework, a longitudinal study was conducted attempting to explore the performance properties of alliance portfolio configuration. The results revealed that alliance diversity and partner diversity have different relative contributions to firms’ economic performance. The relationship between alliance portfolio configuration and firm performance was shaped by degree of multinationality in a curvilinear pattern. The second essay attempted to identify the firm level driving forces of alliance portfolio configuration and how these forces interacting with firms’ internationalization influence firms’ strategic choices on alliance portfolio configuration. The empirical results indicated that past alliance experience, slack resource and firms’ brand images are three critical determinants shaping alliance portfolios, but those shaping relationships are conditioned by firms’ multinationality. The third essay primarily employed real options theory to build a conceptual framework, revealing how country-, alliance portfolio-, firm-, and industry level factors and their interactions influence firms’ strategic decision-making on post-entry continuing expansion in foreign markets. The two empirical studies were resided in global hospitality and travel industries and use panel data to test the relevant theoretical models.

Overall, the dissertation advanced and enriched the theoretical domain of alliance portfolio. It particularly shed valuable insights on three fundamental questions in the domain of alliance portfolio research, namely “if and how alliance portfolios contribute to firms’ economic performance”; “what determines the appearance of alliance portfolios; and “how alliance portfolios affect firms’ strategic decision-making”. This dissertation also extended the international business and strategic management research on service multinationals’ foreign expansion and performance.





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