ASAP presented first-of-their-kind findings from two alliance management research studies during the packed session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” which took place at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The session unveiled the landmark ASAP-commissioned 6th State of Alliance study, “The Economics of Alliances, Social Capital, and Alliance Performance,” researched and authored by Dr. Shawn Wilson, DBA, vice president and general manager at Beaulieu Group (see Part I of this story posted on September 14).
The session also included an insightful presentation by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, co-founder of Vantage Partners, on his company’s 2015 study “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges” (see Part II of this blog post). The presenters then engaged in a conversation about how the two studies dovetail in economic and financial metrics and the ways they can be used to improve company performance. Following is part of their exchange:
Stuart: I think the two studies are very well connected and say very similar things in different ways. One thing that is interesting is that internal operating models haven’t evolved at the same pace as alliancing activity. In the gaps in the internal operating models, we need to rely on social capital. If you start to think of social capital and operating models, organizations need to grapple with how to enable the building of social capital. It’s not easy to do if organizations put people in dilemmas to make social capital decline. The concern I have about the ASAP study is that the language of social capital sounds too individual skill-based, not “How do we build up organizational capability?” We need to make sure executives don’t misunderstand that language.
Shawn: Social capital is an extremely underused term that is much more than individual ties. It’s been used for relationship building, but it’s really precise with dimensions that are unique and powerful when employed…. You need to take all those things into account to appropriately assess the distance between two firms: Is the social capital strong enough to put them together? How do firms assess maturity?
Stuart: Alliance management maturity is a useful concept, and how social capital fits into the model or how to evolve it. Do we assume the commercialization process is taking place only internally, or through partner relationships? There are various attributes of maturity, and when you measure maturity, you want to define your terms. Assuming you have a complex portfolio of somewhat interdependent relationships, what is your maturity level to manage that kind of social capital? Below the surface activities are really interesting to understand, and how they keep us from delivering specific goals.
Shawn: Alliances are outpacing the ability to properly apply physical techniques and analyze, and it’s important to understand the true distance between two companies. How do firms build social capital? That’s a fantastic question. Consider this analogy: My wife and I located back to the West Coast and moved to a neighborhood with an eclectic group—PhDs, opera signers, government workers. If you’d asked me whom the people were that I’d connect with, it wouldn’t have been these folks. But it turns out the structural dimension of the neighborhood was key—who was out in the front yard every night and what is family to me were much stronger predictors of connections.
Stay tuned for additional coverage of the session “Applying the Latest Alliance Management Research to Your Partnering Practice,” which will continue the lively discussion in Part IV between the presenters on how the two studies connect. You can read more on Vantage’s studies by visiting https://www.vantagepartners.com/Articles.aspx.