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Inter-Partner Learning in Asymmetric Alliances between Foreign and Indigenous Companies in the Nigerian Oil Industry

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Okechukwu Okonkwo

The emergence and growing trend of inter-firm alliances between indigenous oil companies and foreign international oil companies in the Nigerian oil industry has elicited widespread expectations of inter-partner learning and knowledge transfer through the alliances in the industry. However, the asymmetric nature of these foreign-indigenous alliances has also raised the question as to «whether or not» and «how» learning and knowledge transfer takes place in these alliances. Through explorative case study research, this work examines the learning intents and learning capacities of partner companies in selected cases of alliances as well as the types of knowledge they acquired through the alliances. The major objective is to identify the pattern of inter-partner learning and the factors affecting learning in such asymmetric alliances. Based on the empirical findings, relevant recommendations are provided for the managerial practice in the industry and the implications for research are highlighted.

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List of Figures .....................................................................................................XI List of Tables.......................................................................................................XI List of Abbreviations........................................................................................ XIII Part I: Introductory Section............................................................................... 1 1 Introduction ............................................................................................. 1 1.1 Background....................................................................................... 1 1.2 Problem Definition ........................................................................... 4 1.3 Research Objectives ......................................................................... 9 1.4 Structure of the Dissertation ........................................................... 13 2 Overview of the Nigerian Oil Industry.................................................. 15 2.1 History and Development of the Industry ...................................... 16 2.2 Structure of the Industry ................................................................. 19 2.2.1 Industry’s Segments................................................................. 19 2.2.2 Sub-Sectors of the Upstream Segment .................................... 21 2.2.3 Key Players in the Industry...................................................... 25 2.3 Indigenous Participation Policies in the Industry........................... 42 2.3.1 Three Major Policies................................................................ 43 2.3.2 Challenges of the Policies........................................................ 51 2.4 Alliances between Foreign and Indigenous Oil Companies .......... 57 2.4.1 Patterns of the Foreign-Indigenous Alliances ......................... 58 2.4.2 Structures of the Foreign-Indigenous Alliances ...................... 61 2.4.3 Prospects of Learning and Knowledge Transfer in the Alliances ........................................................................ 63 2.5 Summary on the Overview of Nigerian Oil Industry ..................... 65 Part II: Theoretical Background ..................................................................... 67 3 Theoretical Explanations of Alliances .................................................. 67 3.1 Forms and Dimensions of Alliances............................................... 67 3.1.1 Forms of Alliances................................................................... 67 3.1.2 Dimensions of Alliances.......................................................... 69 3.2 Motives of Alliances....................................................................... 71 3.2.1 The Knowledge-Based/Learning Perspective ......................... 72 3.2.2 The Resource-Based Perspective............................................. 77 3.3 Summary on the Theoretical Explanations of Alliances ................ 79 4 Inter-Partner Learning in Alliances ....................................................... 82 4.1 Definition of the Concept of Inter-Partner Learning...................... 82 VII 4.1.1 Organizational learning ........................................................... 82 4.1.2 Inter-Organizational Learning in Alliances............................. 83 4.2 Patterns of Inter-Partner Learning in Alliances.............................. 84 4.2.1 Reciprocal Inter-Partner Learning ........................................... 85 4.2.2 Competitive Inter-Partner Learning (“the learning race view”)........................................................ 86 4.2.3 Related Analyses of Learning in Asymmetric International Alliances............................................................. 88 4.3...

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