This chapter seeks to provide a synthesis of the empirical chapters by means of a cross-case discussion. Chapters 1 and 2 may have generated expectations regarding the empirical work and, more broadly, the contributions of this book. It is thus appropriate that we start with identifying these expectations. These can, in turn, be used as criteria against which to evaluate the cases.
Revisiting the literature
It is important to realize from the outset that the case studies were intended as illustrations, and not as a representative sample (in the statistical sense) from which to draw universal conclusions. In fact, it is imperative that this be realized. While the three narratives perhaps expose limitations to our theories about alliance process, they are insufficient in themselves to produce a new theory. They may, however, be helpful in characterizing such a theory, or in suggesting what the theorizing process might entail. But this is material for the final three chapters.
Whereas Chapter 1 provided a review and brief critique of existing process models, the cases sought to illustrate these by example. In it, I proposed that our intellectual approach to alliances might be characterized by a-priori assumptions of constancy, homogeny, teleology, progress or rationality. I suggested that perhaps our understanding of them might profit from relaxing such expectations. Whilst recognizing that reductionism is part and parcel of explanation, we must be careful not to lose important details in so doing.