How knowledge acquisition creates a competitive edge? A qualitative inquiry from international consultancy alliance

Muhammad Shakeel Aslam, Imran Ali, Ahmad Qammar, Lea Kiwan, Amandeep Dhir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The current study attempts to bridge the existing gap related to the role of knowledge acquisition from international alliance partners to improve competitiveness by examining the distinct processes of knowledge acquisition and the challenges confronted in this learning process in order to enhance local and international market performance. Design/methodology/approach: Following case-study approach based on systematic combining, the study presents a case of knowledge acquisition and learning in the context of an international consultancy alliance between leading Pakistani and Chinese engineering firms using six in-depth interviews of key engineers to explore the dynamic mechanisms for knowledge acquisition and learning from the Chinese firm. Grounded analysis drawn upon the Straussian version of grounded theory (GT) {{Strauss, 1990 #136} Strauss, 1998 #139} is used for data analysis in this research. Findings: It was found that the processes of explicit and implicit knowledge acquisition from Chinese firms are integrated consultancy working, social and technical adaptability and seeking confirmation about the work done and knowledge/theories and models used in work. However, these processes are quite complex, posing serious challenges for National Engineering Services, Pakistan to acquire the required knowledge, which can be addressed through partners' motivation to share and acquire knowledge, cultural intelligence and friendship and informal association. The study also found that the knowledge acquired from technologically advanced international organizations by the host partner in the international strategic alliance not only provides a competitive edge to the local host in its local market but also builds its capacity to undertake similar projects in other parts of the world, substantially enhancing its market success. Originality/value: Adding up to the current literature that focuses on knowledge acquisition in a parent-subsidiary relationship, the current research proposes a framework for knowledge acquisition in the unique context of international strategic alliances. The research provides managerial guidelines to manage knowledge acquisition for gaining a competitive edge that would be helpful for the managers in the era of growing interdependence among the organizations across the borders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-681
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


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