Strategic alliances between microfirms: Specific patterns in the French context

Annabelle Jaouen, Katherine Gundolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims first to identify the patterns and governance modes of strategic alliances between microfirms and second, to show that alliances between microfirms have specific characteristics. Design/methodology/ approach: The research adopts a qualitative approach, based on a survey of 20 alliances. It uses semi-directive interviews with entrepreneurs of multi-activity sector firms and discourse analysis. Findings: The paper proposes a typology of microfirm alliances, and highlights the importance of a coherent vision on the part of the partners: egocentered or co-development logic. First, it explains alliance motivations, and presents the different alliance configurations: patterns, purposes, and entrepreneurs' relationships. Then, it analyses these configurations and governance modes, and shows several specificities: lack of formalisation, absence of contractual relationships, trust, and constrained trust. Finally, the paper questions the impact of strategic alliances on the development of microfirms. Originality/value: The research contributes to the knowledge of microfirms' strategic behaviours by showing new results about the functioning of strategic alliances. It shows that informal relationships predominate, and it confirms the research into the role of trust for construction and success of interorganisational collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-70
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • France
  • Governance
  • Small enterprises
  • Strategic alliances
  • Trust


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