Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





Jonathan Johnson

Committee Member

Alan Ellstrand

Second Committee Member

Jason Ridge

Third Committee Member

Hansin Bilgili


Interorganizational Networks, network theory, resource dependent theory, Strategic Alliances


Researchers often rely on social network theory to understand both the structural antecedents and outcomes of strategic alliances. However, many alliance studies only emphasize the existence of a tie and rarely theorize further about their efficacy. This failure to consider the role and variation of content in alliance ties (e.g. resource commitment, trust, information exchange) may hinder the application of various network theories at the interorganizational level. Further, interorganizational network studies have largely neglected the role of the external environment, or context, in interfirm collaboration and often fail to consider how the external environment shapes firm network actions and outcomes. Thus, interorganizational network research should consider both tie content—the type of tie(s) formed between firms—and tie context—the external environment as a network level exogenous factor—in interorganizational network research theory building. In chapter 1, I introduce and test a multilevel, environmental contingency approach to strategic alliance networks that integrates both tie content and context to explain how optimal network structure develops over time and how firms can expect to derive network benefits. In doing so, I show that organizations must carefully consider both the nature of their ties and the competitive context in which these firms reside. I test this framework in a series of two studies in chapters 2 and 3. In chapter 2, I explore how key network exogenous factors, namely institutional context and the task environment, influence alliance partner selection strategies. In chapter 3, I integrate tie content, strategic alliance governance structure and status asymmetry, to explore how these two factors jointly interact with the external environment to influence the legitimacy outcomes of firms. I show that both alliance partner selection strategies and whole network level external factors largely influence potential firm partnering outcomes. In doing so, this study introduces an integrated environmental contingency and tie context-centric approach to network theory, answering calls in the literature for a more fine-grained approach to social networks in the interorganizational context.