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Perfect Partners

Successful corporate alliances have features which result in ‘strategic fit’ between the partners. Factors such as corporate organisation and infrastructure are relevant for strategic fit, as well as financial considerations, strategy and objectives. No less relevant are soft criteria like corporate culture and ethical considerations. As a general rule, fitting alliance partners were found to share the same purpose and manage to achieve an acceptable balance of interests with respect to the three corporate key characteristics: organisation, culture and finances.

WHY SOME ALLIANCES DON’T WORK

Looking at Figure 1, we immediately realise that the alliance the elephant proposes to the mouse is not going to work. When asked why, we are likely to respond: “Well, it’s quite obvious, isn’t it?” The Elephant Mouse Mutual Transportation Alliance is not going to be successful for a number of reasons. First we must wonder about the agreed purpose (the objective) of the alliance. Do both elephant and mouse really need to go all the way together (do they have a mutually dependent business) and do they need to arrive at the same place at the same time (is a common presence mandatory), both of which would be outcomes of putting the alliance into effect. Is it really equally important to both alliance partners to economise on effort (cost of transportation) and is the effort each partner puts into the alliance comparable to their profit (in other words: do they have the same return on investment)?


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Georg Mathis is a doctor of veterinary medicine with a PhD in pharmacology and an MBA. After four years in medical practice, he spent 10 years in biomedical research. Over the last 15 years he has been active in various sectors of the health care industry, mostly in executive positions. He was Medical Adviser at Ciba Vision Ophthalmics, Managing Director of SanaCare, a Swiss HMO and CEO of Sucampo Pharma. In 2002 he founded his own boutique CRO, Appletree Ltd, in Switzerland, which specialises in clinical research in ophthalmology and medical devices, and is predominantly active in the UK, Northern, Central and Eastern Europe.
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