Learning to Learn or Learning to Coordinate? The Influence of Alliance Experience on Acquisition Performance
We examine how alliance experience influences acquisition performance through the transfer of knowledge utilisation routines. We suggest that learning alliances, which facilitate knowledge acquisition from alliance partners, enhance firms` knowledge integration routines whereas complementary specialisation alliances, which facilitate knowledge access without acquisition, improve knowledge combination routines. Drawing on transfer theory, we argue that the effects of alliance experience on acquisition performance depend on the congruence between the knowledge utilisation goals in alliances and acquisitions. As predicted, we find that performance of acquisitions in the semiconductor industry, which require knowledge integration, is affected negatively by experience in complementary specialisation alliances, while performance of acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry, which require knowledge combination rather than integration, is affected positively by experience in complementary specialisation alliances, and negatively by experience in learning alliances.