Summary: The paper explores the role of alliances in Central European countries from the perspective of growth of enterprises. The analysis is based on a comparative overview of 26 case studies of enterprises in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary which have alliances with foreign partners. Most of the alliances are production alliances, especially subcontracting, that are combined with several other types of alliances, especially marketing agreements. The balance between generic expansion, alliances (networks), and mergers & acquisitions as modes of growth of enterprises reflects differences in the firms' ability to control technology, access to market and finance. However, the final outcome does not seem to be a direct function of the ability of enterprises to control these three factors. The types and dynamics of alliances also reflect the political and legal situation of a country (privatisation, attitude towards FDI) as well as specific sectoral features in terms of technology, finance and markets. Features of alliances are in that context shaped through the interaction between firm-specific factors and capabilities, sector- and country-specific factors.
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