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Professor Keith Glaister discusses ‘Corporate Marriages’ in the Financial Times

Dean of the Management School Professor Keith Glaister discusses the characteristics of successful, and unsuccessful, business partnerships over recent years in Andrew Hill’s business blog, article ‘Corporate marriages often end in divorce,’ The Financial Times, 25th July 2011.

The article examines business relations such as the once “comprehensive partnership” between Volkswagen and Suzuki in 2009, and the once described “excellent relationship” between Abilio Diniz, the Brazilian supermarket tycoon and the French retailer Casino in 2005. Both reported to have shown signs of growing tensions in recent months. The article does, however, credit the latter: “At least the Casino-Diniz alliance, struck in 1999 and now at an uneasy standoff, has lasted longer than the rough average of four to seven years for such deals.”

Using the matrimonial analogy to highlight the characteristics of a business partnership, the article suggests “Like marriages, business alliances involve people. People can be trusting, optimistic and tolerant, but also weak, overbearing and devious.” Dean of the Management School Professor Keith Glaister adds: “It is hard to know how many partnerships are struck annually, let alone how many endure. Unlike full bids, there is no official record. The long-standing assumption, though, is that between half and two-thirds fail.”

Despite the failures, the article goes on to acknowledge the growing popularity of business partnerships and collaborations and suggests ” Companies had better get better at partnerships – or find ways of insuring themselves against their most common flaws,” and continues to suggest advice on combating these ‘common flaws.’ Professor Keith Glaister cites a joint venture struck in the 1990s between Yoplait of France and the UK’s Dairy Crest: “Reciprocal invitations to the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the French countryside for the lead executives put the cream on top of that successful deal.” Further suggestions to endure a successful a business partnership include “Legal agreements” mirroring the marital prenuptial, learning from past relationships and paying attention to what we know already know about potential partners.

The full article can be viewed at:

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