Strategic alliances between businesses are difficult to manage and have a high risk of failure, a two-year study has shown.
But senior HR managers are key to the success of these joint ventures and should be consulted from the start of the projects, not bolted on afterwards.
The Roffey Park Institute research says it is essential for companies to succeed in these alliances as more companies opt for collaboration and synergy and transform the business landscape.
They are quicker to set up and more flexible than mergers or acquisitions so many staff will experience working in alliances some which may be short-lived but others may last for many years.
If companies put effort into building the personal relationships between staff from the two different companies then this contributes to the success of the projects, the research shows.
Richard Emery, chief executive of UKTV – a joint venture between the BBC and Flextech – which offers channels such as UK Gold and UK Style, said it is vital that HR is involved at an early stage. “Establish the vision, then determine what it is you stand for, set clear goals and let people know what they can expect from you. Don’t underestimate the HR side. Get everyone singing from the same song sheet.”
Research director at Roffey Park and one of the report’s authors Linda Holbeche said, “To get it to work people must make a conscious effort to build trust between the different groups of people, to consolidate the common systems people use and be prepared to take risks. The more information is shared the higher the level of trust.”
She said there needs to be an individual who can influence both parties. “They should not just be a chameleon but be one with backbone.”
Holbeche said there is a big HR role in recruitment, training, careers, performance management, culture and looking at how it is going to work, which should be done from the start.
• The report, Strategic Alliances: Getting the People Bit Right, is priced £50 from Roffey Park. Call 01293 854065; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
By Catriona Marchant