This longitudinal research study of the US bicycle industry from 1975 to 1994 and beyond examines the relationship between strategic alliances and industry structures from a resource-based view of the firm. The main argument of this study is that strategic alliances provide firms with flexible facilitating mechanisms to access strategic resources for competing in dynamic competitive environments. A theoretical framework outlines a reciprocal relationship between the creation of strategic alliances and the development of an industry life cycle. Purposes for strategic alliances arising from a transformation value chain are related to changes in industry structures as defined by different stages of an industry life cycle model. In order for a firm to sustain a competitive advantage as industry structures change, strategic alliances facilitate a means for firm resources to be reconfigured accordingly or they may become core rigidities.
The following chapters develop the specifics for this research study. Chapter 1 introduces the rationales for studying strategic alliances and industry structures from a resource based view. Chapter 2 reviews theoretical foundations and research findings on the resource based view of the firm, strategic alliances and joint ventures, and the life cycle model. Chapter 3 draws from earlier research findings to develop a theoretical framework that outlines a dynamic relationship between strategic alliances and industry structures. While strategic alliances enable firms to adapt to environmental conditions, the cumulative impact of interfirm activities lead to shifts in life cycle stages. Chapter 4 outlines the case study research methodology and the selection of the bicycle industry for this empirical research study.
Chapter 5 presents the bicycle industry with detailed discussions of types of bicycles and component parts, demand and supply conditions of the US bicycle industry, bicycle firm behavior, strategic alliances of bicycle firms, technological innovations, and the global bicycle industry. Chapter 6 discusses the case analysis of the bicycle industry by exploring the theoretical framework that was developed in Chapter 3. The results indicate that purposes for strategic alliances differ during each stage of the bicycle industry's life cycle from 1975 to 1994 and beyond. An important role of strategic alliances was to enable bicycle firms to reconfigure resources to protect the technical core of the organization and/or develop normal assets to leverage core competencies. To conclude, Chapter 7 outlines the contributions and limitation of this research study with future research directions.