To partner or to acquire? A longitudinal study of alliances in the shipping industry

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How do firms in the liner shipping industry choose between partnerships and acquisitions? In this longitudinal empirical study, we examine dyadic partnerships and acquisitions that took place in the liner shipping industry from 1994 to 2006. We identify and test specific factors that influence liner shipping firms in their strategic choice between partnerships and acquisitions. Using Cox regressions for our analyses, we find that two factors, the extent of redundant resources and the intensity of competition, increase the likelihood of the choice of acquisition, while a third factor, the nature of resources, affects the likelihood of acquisition in an inverted-U shaped (∩) manner. In addition, the home region of a firm and prior acquisition experience increases the probability of acquisitions while prior partnership experience decreases it. The level of synergy and degree of market uncertainty do not affect the mode of alliance choice. We discuss the implications of our findings for the “partner versus acquire” strategic decision made by liner shipping firms.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Management and Marketing, College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, P.O. Box 2713, Doha, Qatar

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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