منابع شبکه و سرمایه اجتماعی در پرتفوی های اتحاد شرکت هواپیمایی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4401||2013||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Tourism Management, Volume 36, June 2013, Pages 441–453
The airline sector is a mature industry in which a wide range of competitive practices reflect highly intense levels of rivalry. This is evident from the alliance portfolios of airline companies that are composed of mutually advantageous agreements between firms in the aviation sector. In this context, we examine the influence that access to valuable network resources may have on company performance (in operational and financial terms). Moreover, as network resources come under the resource dimension of a firm's social capital, we also study the way the resource dimension is affected by other dimensions of social capital (network position, network structure formed by the alliance portfolio and the quality of the relations). We study the alliances agreed between 214 mainstream airlines, up until 2007, during which time 351 airlines formed various types of partnerships. The results suggest, on the one hand, that access to partner resources is influenced by structural and relational factors. However, on the other hand, the structure of each airline's alliance portfolio has more influence than its position in the global network of alliances. These results point to the need for satisfactory governance of the composition and management of an airline's alliance portfolio.
Over the past two decades, researchers have gathered evidence on inter-firm alliances, interorganizational relations and their influence on firm performance (McEvily & Zaheer, 1999; Nohria & Garcia-Pont, 1991). In particular, studies have shown that alliances can improve innovative capacity (Ahuja, 2000a; Zaheer & Bell, 2005), market share (Shipilov, 2006), survival (Baum, Calabrese, & Silverman, 2000) and financial results (Rowley, Behrens, & Krackhardt, 2000). These investigations go further than the idea of the firm as an isolated actor. Moreover, not only have they sought to analyse how interorganizational relations affect performance, they have also attempted to explain the background to those relations (Garcia-Pont & Nohria, 2002; Gulati, 1995; Gulati & Gargiulo, 1999). From a theoretical viewpoint, the majority of these studies are founded on either the Resource Based-View (RBV) or Network Theory, or on the joint use of both approaches. The RBV began with the ideas of Penrose (1959) concerning the value of the resources to which the firm has access. Subsequently, these ideas were developed by a group of researchers (Barney, 1991; Dierickx & Cool, 1989; Grant, 1991; Rumelt, 1991; Wernerfelt, 1984), whose work suggested that each firm possesses a set of unique resources that distinguishes it from other firms and defines and maintains its competitive advantage (Barney, 1991). Many authors have used the RBV to analyse alliances and interorganizational relations (Ahuja, 2000a; Lavie, 2006; Zaheer & Bell, 2005). Studies on business alliances have definitively incorporated social network theory since Gulati (1995, 1998) proposed going beyond the study of the dyad to examine the entire network. From that point, the application of social networks to interorganizational relations has centred, above all, on comparing how the structure of a network of firms (density, centrality, structural holes…) leads to different levels of performance (Ahuja, 2000a; Baum et al., 2000; Koka & Prescott, 2002; Rowley et al., 2000). The relational view (Dyer & Singh, 1998) complements this perspective by proposing the existence of rents generated by the alliance as a whole. In recent years, a new approach to business alliances – the alliance portfolio - has been gaining momentum. It is situated around the confluence of the RBV with network theory and promises to be very fruitful (Hoffmann, 2007; Kale & Singh, 2009; Wassmer, 2010). An alliance portfolio is “a focal firm's egocentric alliance network” (Wassmer, 2010). This approach looks closely at the individual firm and at how it manages its relations with other firms, organizations and individuals in multiple alliances. Thus, the object of analysis moves from the alliance towards the firm and attention shifts from the complete network to the egocentric network of the focal firm. However, this spotlight on the individual firm and its egocentric network has attracted enormous attention in the previous literature on interorganizational relations seen in terms of social capital (Adler & Kwon, 2002; Koka & Prescott, 2002; Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). The majority of studies on social capital have centred on the benefits that firms can obtain if they are immersed in a dense (Coleman, 1988) or a dispersed network (Burt, 1992), and on the type of relations that they maintain with other organizations (Koka & Prescott, 2002; Tsai & Ghoshal, 1998). Therefore, social capital as a construct is linked to network resources. Gulati, Nohria, and Zaheer (2000) proposed that both the structure of a firm's ties and the characteristics of the links between them represent two network resources, although they also mentioned network members as a resource. Lavie (2006) expressed this idea in greater detail by pointing out how firms can obtain advantages from their alliances, depending on the resources with which their partners are endowed. This study establishes a connection between the research agenda put forward by Lavie (2006, 2008) to study network resources, the alliance portfolio perspective and the concept of social capital. These are complementary approximations insofar as they are based on the egocentric networks of a firm that arise from various interorganizational relations. Thus, a new dimension of social capital is put forward for consideration as a multidimensional construct (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998): the resource dimension, which may be added to the structural and the relational dimensions (Galán & Castro, 2004; Granovetter, 1992; Gulati, 1998). The resource dimension brings meaning to the idea that the value of business relations is conditional upon access to partners with valuable resources, over and above the quantity or the quality of those business relations and their structure (Casanueva & Gallego, 2010). There has been a constant proliferation of mergers, acquisitions and alliances in most sectors over the past two decades, but the airline business stands out because of the very real changes in the way in which competition takes place within it, due to deregulation, globalization and, above all, the extensive use of alliances between businesses. Evans (2001) analysed the determinants behind the proliferation of alliances in the sector. In general, airline companies attempt to appropriate or to use the valuable resources of their partners, in order to compete or to survive, making agreements that provide them with access to new routes, to customer loyalty programs and shared marketing, joint purchasing, and subcontracted operational processes, among other aspects. The process has gone even further and true competition is developing between coalition and allied groups in the sector (Gomes-Casseres, 1994). The objectives of this study are to observe the different dimensions of the social capital that each airline possesses, because of its membership of a network of alliances, and the way these relate to each other. It also examines how these dimensions affect the performance of the airline companies. Nevertheless, we should point out that, by conducting this research, we are not seeking to confirm exact, specific relations such as identifying behavioural patterns that connect the dimensions of social capital and the alliance portfolio with the performance of each particular airline, on the basis of network resources. Instead, we wish to arrive at an initial approximation of the proposed model, in order to understand which relations are established and in what way. This will allow us to continue with the investigation of those relations in a more detailed manner, or to establish new plans in view of the results. In any event, the fundamental purpose of this investigation is twofold. In the first place, it aims to confirm the effect of the relations within the alliance portfolio of an actor on its access to the resources of its partners; in other words, how does the egonet structure influence access to the resources of the network. In second place, an attempt is made to confirm how access to network resources, understood as the resources of partners that belong to the alliance portfolio of an actor, affect both the operative and the financial results of that actor. Thus, this study of the alliances between mainstream airline businesses reveals the role of the resource dimension in the performance of these firms and how network-resource endowment is conditioned by structural and relational factors, considered in earlier studies on social capital. Evidence is therefore shown, which support the ideas of Lavie (2006), to the effect that the greatest advantage in business relations is to maintain links with businesses and organizations that have valuable resources for the focal firm. These findings help to consolidate the bridges between RBV and social network theory, linking the ideas of network resources to partner resource endowment (Lavie, 2006, 2008) and to proposals to study the alliance portfolio from a network perspective. They also suggest that airline governance should consider partner resources as a principal element in the management of their alliance portfolio, as it affects their choices as well as the processes of assimilation and appropriation. This study continues with the theoretical presentation of the relations between social capital, the alliance portfolio and network resources and how these can affect the performance of the firm, by describing a model to understand their relations better. Subsequently, an explanation is given of the methods used to test the hypotheses that arise from the model, in the context of alliances between airline businesses. The results of the analysis are then described and, finally, the conclusions are presented, along with the study's limitations and future lines of research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The purpose of this investigation has been to understand the role that network resources play as part of the firm's social capital and how these resources affect firm performance. The first interesting result is the differentiation of four components or dimensions in the social capital of the firms arising from the composition, over time, of their alliance portfolios. The widely used structural embeddedness dimension was divided, on the one hand, into a dimension linked to the position of each firm in the global structure of alliances within the sector and, on the other, into the structural patterns of the alliance portfolio of each company, understood as the characteristics of its egocentric network. But above all, the resource dimension, a reflection of network resources (Gulati, 2007; Lavie, 2006), has shown itself to be a basic reference in the study of social capital, to the extent that it centres on the appropriation of resources present in a network, more than on its creation or on the endowment of the resources of each firm. The analysis of the airline sector at an international level confirms that the endowment of company network resources, understood as the resources held by the partners with which a firm has direct relations, is linked to other dimensions of social capital arising from the set of alliances of a particular firm. In particular, the structure of the alliance portfolio positively affects the endowment of different types of resources (physical, human, technological, marketing, and reputation) that may be obtained from partners. Likewise, the characteristics of the dyad ties in the alliances, measured in terms of the duration of the alliances and the intensity of the relations in the different forms of alliances, also affect the endowment of the network resources of the airlines. On the contrary, the position of an airline in the complete network of the sector at an international level is negatively related to access to network resources. This negative relation appears to cast doubt on the idea of network structure as an antecedent of access to resources and their mobilization (Casanueva & Gallego, 2010; Lin, 1999). However, it does have a positive effect on the structure of the egocentric network. As pointed out earlier, the firm's position in the global structure of the network does not necessarily have to be linked to the structural patterns of its egocentric network. Those firms that occupy the most central positions in the global network, both in the sense of access to other network positions and in the sense of serving as a path for different connections between its members, have a smaller endowment of network resources in relative terms; a fact that may be explained in various ways. The first is that these more central firms are usually linked to a broader number of partners; in other words, they have larger neighbourhoods, in which there are firms with a greater endowment of resources and others with smaller endowments and, as relative measurement indicators were used, the average value is reduced on account of the latter firms. The second explanation could be that the resource endowment of the more central firms is already sufficient and the choice of partners in their alliance portfolios is not conditioned by access to those resources, but by other parameters such as the quality and the complementarity of the relations. Finally, indicators were eliminated from the structural equation models (to guarantee validity, and the reliability of the scales of measurement in use) that might vary the composition of a variable and its relations with others. If airlines try to mobilize the strategic resources of their partners (destinations that complete their network, technological support and maintenance, reputation, etc.) they should manage the composition and structure of their egonet in an acceptable way (Alliance portfolio), and concern themselves less with their position in the global sector. Moreover, the data obtained from the alliances in the airline sector also allow us to confirm that the resource endowment of the network partially affects the performance of a firm. This finding is consistent with earlier studies which have shown that performance is linked to access to the firm's resources. For example, Batjargal (2003) using a generator of positions, arrived at the same conclusions. However, the results only showed this link in a significative form in the case of the activity indicators of the firm (its volume of operations), but not for its financial results. The majority of studies on alliance management have centred on the relations that arise between two isolated firms (Chen & Ren, 2007; Evans, 2001; Iatrou & Skourias, 2005; Lazzarini, 2007; Rajasekar & Foust, 2009; Shah & Swaminathan, 2008; Weber, 2005). These are two-to-two relations. Given that what is of real interest in the creation of an alliance is what the agreement brings to its members, various studies have centred on establishing whether alliances between airlines have an impact on some performance variable (Chen & Ren, 2007; Evans, 2001; Iatrou & Skourias, 2005; Lazzarini, 2007; Rajasekar & Foust, 2009; Weber, 2005). Our study shows that what really affects the results are not the dual relations, but the possibility of mobilizing the resources in an alliance network. These links in the network of alliances allow access to the valuable resources of the partners. As Wassmer and Dussauge (2012) have also pointed out, that kind of mobilization of resources is not produced in the global network of alliances, but in the egonet of the firm. This work shows clear evidence of that idea. Therefore, instead of centring, as airlines do, on their bi-directional relations with their allies or on the management of the global network, it would be more advantageous for airlines to centre on the management of their alliance portfolio (De Man, Roijakkers, & De Graauw, 2010), given that this would allow them to mobilize resources that will improve their results. In the airline sector, in which the alliances between firms is in constant growth, each airline will possess an alliance portfolio that comprises other airlines with which it has maintained business relations over time. The governance of this alliance portfolio can condition the results of the airline, at least with regard to operational aspects, which will have consequences for its medium and long-term performance. This work has shown that, rather than global positioning in the network of alliances in the sector, it is advisable for a firm to have an acceptable structure in its alliance portfolio, in which it appears that both direct and indirect contacts are very important, in order to access partners with valuable resources (human, material, marketing, technological and reputation). The performance of airlines with partners that have more resources appears to be better, hence the choice of partners should be based on their resource endowment. The complexity involved in the analysis of the resource endowment of potential partners and the governance of the networks and sub-networks that the airlines attempt to set up, means it is advisable to set up and/or develop a specific function within each airline business. Satisfactory exploitation by an airline of its alliance portfolio should take into account its composition as well as its management. Thus, it would be interesting if airlines set up a unit or created posts that specialize in the management of alliance portfolios. This is in fact already happening and is a reality in some airlines, such as KLM, where Henk de Graauw directs a department, which is principally concerned with the strategic management of alliances. Finally, the limitations of this investigation should be pointed out. Among others, it is clear that the set of firms from the airline transport sector is very diverse in size, scale, strategic position, marketing strategies, services offered, cost structure, pricing policy, etc. for which reason the aggregate treatment of all the firms can give rise to incorrect conclusions, which would make it necessary to consider strategies that would allow these effects to be monitored. Another important limitation is that time has not been taken into account in the investigation. The effects at different moments in time of the variables and the evolution in the relations would improve with an analysis of the results in which time was taken into account. Besides, not all of the factors have been considered that might affect performance, nor have larger models that include different effects from those that arise within the different dimensions of social capital. Neither have other possible links been established between the different dimensions of social capital under consideration. We have not studied the influence of each concrete indicator on the dependent variables, but instead their influence on a factor. Finally, there are pertinent indicators, from the theoretical point of view, that have been eliminated to assure the goodness of the measurement scales. We were aware of these limitations even before the results were obtained, because as we indicated at the start of this work, our interest did not reside in conducting an exhaustive study of the relations that arise between the variables, but of observing the relational patterns that arise between them. Future lines of research are therefore linked to the above-mentioned limitations. One possible way of extending this work would be to conduct a detailed analysis of the effect that the model has on different segments or strategic groups in the airline transport sector, such as flag carriers, low cost sector, air freight transport, etc. In second place, given that data is available over various years, the temporal effects could be studied on the endowment of network resources as well as on the relations between social capital and the results of the firms. In third place, the scope of the investigation may be increased by incorporating new variables that would help to explain the observations, through the use of other statistical tests that might analyse the indicators in greater depth or through the study of other possible relations between the dimensions of social capital. And, finally, we wish to look more deeply at the direct impact of the most relevant indicators, in order to construct the independent variables from the indicators of the dependent variables, by applying more appropriate techniques such as linear regression.