Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Machiavellianism in Alliance Partnerships

Machiavellianism in Alliance Partnerships

Giuseppe Musarra, Matthew J. Robson and Constantine S. Katsikeas

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

The slides describe the nature, functioning, and performance relevance of Machiavellianism in alliance partnerships. The paradox of Machiavellianism is that it is a strategy a firm uses to manipulate the partner to improve its own gain, but doing so is likely to prove detrimental to its performance in the alliance. Our Theories-in-Use discussions surfaced manifestations of Machiavellianism’s behavioral side that would allow the detection of a Machiavellian partner. Machiavellian firms are likely to exhibit behaviors that reflect its dimensions, such as hypervigilance, authoritative work patterns, and calculative adaptations. Managers’ ability to harness shared experiences provides a way to work with these firms more successfully.

Access Classroom Lecture Slides

Related Marketing Courses:
Business-to-Business Marketing

Full Citation:
Musarra, Giuseppe, Matthew J. Robson, and Constantine S. Katsikeas (2022), “Machiavellianism in Alliance Partnerships,” Journal of Marketing,

Against a backdrop of limited research focusing on dark-side characteristics in alliances, the authors argue that Machiavellianism in the alliance influences strategies pertaining to learning new knowledge and using power to achieve better performance effectiveness. They develop a model using theories-in-use procedures and drawing from both Machiavellian intelligence and achievement goal perspectives, which they test in a quasi-longitudinal study of 199 marketing alliances. The results suggest that Machiavellianism relates negatively to collaborative learning and positively to learning anxiety and use of power. The findings also indicate that collaborative learning enhances performance while learning anxiety and use of power result in underperformance. Collaborative learning, learning anxiety, and use of power fully mediate Machiavellianism’s impact on performance. Finally, Machiavellianism’s relationships with collaborative learning and learning anxiety are moderated positively and negatively, respectively, by partners’ collaborative history. This evidence provides managers with a more in-depth understanding about the nature, functioning, and performance relevance of Machiavellianism in alliance partnerships.


Special thanks to Demi Oba, Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, for support in working with authors on submissions to this program.

Search other Insights in the Classroom​

Read a managerial summary of this paper

More from the Journal of Marketing​

Giuseppe Musarra is Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Leeds, UK.

Matthew J. Robson is Professor of Marketing and International Management, Cardiff University, UK.

Constantine S. Katsikeas is Arnold Ziff Research Chair and Professor of Marketing and International Management, University of Leeds, UK.