Working cooperatively in an age of deregulation: Strategic alliances in Australia's telecommunications sector
This paper outlines the first part of a longitudinal study exploring strategic alliances as central mechanisms of inter-firm cooperation in the Australian telecommunications sector. It reports on the collaboration practices of the three carriers ‐ Telecom, Optus and Vodafone ‐ and their first-tier "partners". The Australian telecommunications industry is a useful site for theory testing and development because of its degree of business concentration, the strategic relationships and networks involved and the role of government in encouraging alliances and networks, especially since the move away from a single government-owned monopoly-carrier environment. The recent proliferation of interorganisational alliances means we need new approaches to understanding and a move away from simple assumptions about complex organizational structures and processes. Neither is the current superficial rhetoric promoting such arrangements as the answer to industry ills adequate. Conseqently, the present study aims to enhance more complex understanding of how such structural arrangements actually work ‐ how they are formed, organized and managed over time. The study methodology centres on analysis of research and in-depth interviews with key industry and government executives. Proposed extensions of the present work involve a detailed communications industry survey and network analysis of relationships, with a special focus on relationships growing in the convergence of the telecommunications, entertainment, computing and media industries. When quotations from study participants are used, sources are generally not acknowledged in an endeavour to keep as much anonymity as possible.