Journal Article | California Management Review | summer 2008

Breaking up Is Never Easy: Planning for Exit in a Strategic Alliance

by Ranjay Gulati, Parth Mehrotra and Maxim Sytch

Abstract

This article highlights several important dimensions of planning for exit from strategic alliances and also offers several examples of the disastrous consequences of inadequate exit-planning. While many companies fall into the trap of having no exit plan, other companies take too simple a planning approach, wondering if the exit will be unconditionally easy or hard. A more effective approach involves questions such as "When should the exit be easy and when should it be hard? And for which partner?" The article develops a framework that stipulates contingency-specific exit provisions for each partner in the alliance-specifically, situations in which exit should be symmetric and easy for both partners, symmetric and hard for both partners, or asymmetric, hard for one partner and easy for the other. Furthermore, many alliances today reflect complex deals that cover several distinct developmental stages, each of which contains a distinct set of contingencies. Such alliances require a dynamic application of the exit framework, wherein each stage of the alliance development entails a different set of exit provisions, and exit from one stage would signify the beginning of the next.

Keywords: Strategic Planning; Alliances; Partners and Partnerships; Corporate Strategy;

Citation:

Gulati, Ranjay, Parth Mehrotra, and Maxim Sytch. "Breaking up Is Never Easy: Planning for Exit in a Strategic Alliance." California Management Review 50, no. 4 (summer 2008): 147–163.