Eve Harrington and strategic alliances

Krzysztof Klincewicz contributed a chapter to the trilogy “Mythical Inspirations for Organizational Realities”, edited by Prof. Monika Kostera and published by Palgrave Macmillan, which concerning the roles and examples of myths in management theory and practice. The paper referred to a movie, which could supplement ancient mythologies and literary works in summarizing shared experiences or setting an example to follow. Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s movie „All About Eve” influenced the views of trust, partnership and deceit, and the book chapter focused on its impact in the business world. The movie tells a story of an unknown small town girl Eve Harrington, who gets to know a Broadway star Margo Channing, becomes her assistant and friend, and starts plotting sophisticated intrigues to later replace Margo in her role at the theater and in the high society. The cynicism and the perfection in deceiving her mentor made Eve a symbol of self-interested and powerful player. The story demonstrates how friendship can be used as a strategic resource to meet private objectives. It follows a pattern, which can later be observed also in the business realm. There are two players, one of low profile, with limited resources – the other famous and experienced. The low profile player becomes acquainted with the admired partner, learns from her, uses her resources, gradually taking over control over them and developing own skills. Finally, the relationship is terminated by the partner who no longer needs the other party, discrediting her to take her position. Earlier researchers e.g. the seminal example of NEC, forming a network of partnerships with major Western technology suppliers, using them as „strategic leverage” to acquire necessary technical knowledge and skills, and later becoming self-sufficient in the concerned domains. Resource perspective on inter-organizational alliances proposed that an alliance was a strategic resource, which should offer tangible benefits, be exploited, and terminated as soon as it was no longer needed – a phenomenon described also as “learning race”. The chapter discussed more recent examples of partnerships by Japanese, Chinese and Indian companies, demonstrating the implicit influence of the Eve Harrington archetype on the ways strategists think about the inter-organizational relations.

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