Research Seminar Rene Bakker


12:30 - 13:30

Pantry, 4th floor

The Guppy and the Whale: Relational Pluralism and Start-Ups’ Expropriation Dilemma in Partnership Formation

Rene Bakker, Indiana University

Amsterdam Business Research Institute

Business and Organisation


A research seminar by Rene Bakker who is currently assistant professor at Indiana University, Kelley School of Business. Rene’s work should be of particular interest to all of us because it is situated at the intersection of OT, strategy, and entrepreneurship. 

Short Biography
I am an Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Previously, I worked as a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research in Brisbane, Australia. I received my Ph.D. from Tilburg University in the Netherlands in 2011.
My research takes place at the cross-section of the fields of entrepreneurship and strategy. I am broadly interested in the question how, in an age of increasing uncertainty and organizational fluidity, entrepreneurs can grow their businesses and gain prominence. I look at joint projects and strategic alliances with other firms as two avenues by which they may do so. I believe the concept of time is critical to this topic, and trying to understand its role is a common thread through all of my work. My research has been published in leading journals including the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, and Organization Studies.
I enjoy teaching at all levels, having previously taught courses in organization theory, project management, and strategy, amongst others. I am particularly passionate about the training of strategic thinking, which is an analytic capability that I fundamentally believe is useful to managers at all levels as well as entrepreneurs.
I have obtained multiple competitive grants throughout the years, the most prominent of which allowed me to undertake a unique longitudinal study of the Australian mineral mining industry.
I am a member of the editorial board of Journal of Business Venturing and Organization Studies.

Start-up businesses tend to have a high need for resources yet face significant risks in the formation of partnerships with established partners to access those resources. We propose that a partnership strategy that is focused on relational pluralism—forming multiplex and multifaceted ties with partners instead of stand-alone alliances—can mitigate these risks by offering the start-up increased legitimacy and a relational safeguard against resource misappropriation by a more powerful partner. However, we propose that there is a limit to the effectiveness of relational pluralism: its effect is weakened when the start-up becomes entirely dependent on a small set of partners, or when an additional tie yields resources that are redundant. That is, our framework proposes that start-ups mainly benefit from relational pluralism in instances where off-setting gains in legitimacy and control outweigh the cost of dependence and redundancy. Empirically observing the co-evolution of start-ups’ interlocking directorate and strategic alliance networks in the Australian mining industry over a 10-year period, we find that start-ups that engage in relational pluralism perform better than start-ups that form no alliances as well as start-ups that form stand-alone alliances. Having a very small portfolio of partners (dependence) or one that skews heavily toward local partners (redundancy), however, indeed limit relational pluralism’s effectiveness. Intriguingly, we also find that the temporal sequencing of relational pluralism matters. One of our central findings is that the best performing start-ups first form board interlocks with promising partners, and add a strategic alliance later. This offers a rare glance at the temporal sequencing in which peripheral start-ups can gain exceptional performance through partnership formation.