The best books for business alliances and collaboration – and power

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, and manager who has spent much time thinking and doing research on why collaboration among firms and people is so valued, yet so hard to make successful. I was born in Bergen, Norway, and have spent my time studying and working worldwide – a PhD from Stanford, then working in Japan and Norway until settling in Singapore, working for INSEAD. Keeping my body and mind fit is important to me, so I train boxing and read anything from short articles to lengthy books, on any topic from business to wine. 


I wrote...

Network Advantage: How to Unlock Value From Your Alliances and Partnerships

By Henrich Greve, Tim Rowley, Andrew Shipilov

Book cover of Network Advantage: How to Unlock Value From Your Alliances and Partnerships

What is my book about?

This book was a collaboration, as a book about collaborating and alliances should be, and a labor of love backed by research, as a book should be when a team of three transform the conclusions from much research, ours and others’, into a framework for thinking about alliances and practical advice for making alliances successful. The main theme of the book is one of firms gaining collective strength through working together. A sub-theme is that benefits are not distributed equally, so your firm needs to make smart choices. While each alliance can strengthen the firm’s competitiveness, this will only happen if managers map out the alliances and consider how they work together to strengthen the firm. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Driving Results Through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth

Henrich Greve Why did I love this book?

Before even thinking about collaborations and alliances with other firms, executives should consider whether their firm is collaborative enough. Surprisingly, the answer is often “no” because the structure and processes have not been established with an eye towards building a network that spreads information and facilitates collaboration. This book provides very helpful advice on how to improve firms through internal network building.

By Robert L. Cross, Robert J. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Driving Results Through Social Networks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Driving Results Through Social Networks shows executives and managers how to obtain substantial performance and innovation impact by better leveraging these traditionally invisible assets. For the past decade, Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas have worked closely with executives from over a hundred top-level companies and government agencies. In this groundbreaking book, they describe in-depth how these leaders are using network thinking to increase revenues, lower costs, and accelerate innovation.


Book cover of Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations

Henrich Greve Why did I love this book?

This one book will help you accomplish three important goals. First, a lot of collaboration and alliance work generates innovative ideas that become decisions – but implementing decisions, especially innovative ones, is hard. This book is a classic work on how to push reluctant organizations into implementing what’s good for them to do. Second, whenever there is a network of connected people and firms, there will be power dynamics. This book gives recipes for how to handle them successfully. Third, building networks not just for information, but also for power, is always good for you, and there is a wealth of advice on how to do it.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Managing With Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although much as been written about how to make better decisions, a decision by itself changes nothing. The big problem facing managers and their organizations today is one of implementation--how to get things done in a timely and effective way. Problems of implementation are really issues of how to influence behavior, change the course of events, overcome resistance, and get people to do things they would not otherwise do. In a word, power. Managing With Power provides an in-depth look at the role of power and influence in organizations. Pfeffer shows convincingly that its effective use is an essential component…


Book cover of Collaborative Advantage: Winning through Extended Enterprise Supplier Networks

Henrich Greve Why did I love this book?

Our book is about alliances in any kind of industry, and our most-used examples were Sony and Samsung, which are conglomerates. What if you want to learn about assembly industries with long and complex supply chains? Look no further than to Collaborative Advantage, which draws from research on the automobile industry to produce insights that will help any assembler that depends on and seeks to draw competitive strength from organizing and improving the supply chain and its firms.

By Jeffrey H. Dyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collaborative Advantage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why has Chrysler been twice as profitable as GM and Ford during the 1990s even though it is a much smaller company with plants that are less efficient than Ford's? Why does Toyota continue to have substantial productivity and quality advantages long after knowledge of the Toyota Production System has diffused to competitors? The answer, according to Jeff Dyer, is that Toyota and Chrysler have been the first in their industry to recognize that the fundamental unit
of competition has changed-from the individual firm to the extended enterprise.
In this book Dyer demonstrates the power of collaborative advantage, arguing that,…


Book cover of Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital

Henrich Greve Why did I love this book?

Do you want a serious look at the science behind how people and firms work together, and how they can draw advantages from it. Read this book first. It describes the main principles that determine what networks are best and who draws the benefits from them – remember, networks create value and distribute value! It presents the underlying research but is written in a way that is easy to follow. Our book on alliances draws from the same ideas, made even more practical, so the two are great to read together.

By Ronald S. Burt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brokerage and Closure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Social Capital, the advantage created by location in social structure, is a critical element in business strategy. Who has it, how it works, and how to develop it have become key questions as markets, organizations, and careers become more and more dependent on informal, discretionary relationships. The formal organization deals with accountability; Everything else flows through the informal: advice, coordination, cooperation friendship, gossip, knowledge, trust.

Informal relations have always been with us, they have always mattered. What is new is the range of activities in which they now matter, and the emerging clarity we have about how they create advantage…


Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Henrich Greve Why did I love this book?

Why indeed, given the topic of this reading list, and that you have probably read it before? But you have not read it trying to understand alliances, collaboration, and power. Read this way, Lord of the Rings has everything. It contrasts the centrally controlled Mordor with the alliances facing it. It shows how old alliances and allegiances are maintained even under extreme stress. It shows the tensions from different ways of thinking and different priorities, and leaders who are able to resolve these for the common good. It shows how diverse capabilities turn the Middle Earth alliances into an opponent so capable and unpredictable that it overcomes Sauron’s resources. Anyone who truly understands this book can manage the alliances of a firm. 

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…


You might also like...

Empire's Daughter

By Marian L Thorpe,

Book cover of Empire's Daughter

Marian L Thorpe Author Of Empress & Soldier

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Birder Traveller Amateur landscape historian Reader

Marian's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Lena thinks she knows her future: in her small village, nothing much has changed for two hundred years. Women farm and fish, plant and harvest: a cooperative, productive, peaceful life. Until the day a soldier rides in, to ask the unthinkable of the women: learn to fight. Invasion is imminent, and the men alone cannot defeat them.

Maya, Lena’s partner, refuses. Going against the collective decision of the village means banishment. Will Lena decide to defend her home, or go with her love?

Journey with Lena as she makes this terrible choice, setting her feet on a path towards a…

Empire's Daughter

By Marian L Thorpe,

What is this book about?

"Fans of Guy Gavriel Kay will love Thorpe's work." Anya Pavelle

A B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree; Eric Hoffer Finalist, 2021; BBNYA 2021 Semi-Finalist

An Emperor's request. A lover's refusal. And a young woman who must choose between them.

Many generations past, the great empire from the east left Lena's country to its own defences. Now invasion threatens...and to save their land, women must learn the skills of war. But in a world reminiscent of Britain after the fall of Rome, only men fight; women farm and fish. Lena's choice to answer her leader's call to arms separates her from her lover…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in business networking, good and evil, and management?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about business networking, good and evil, and management.

Business Networking Explore 12 books about business networking
Good And Evil Explore 135 books about good and evil
Management Explore 142 books about management