This paper employs comparative longitudinal case study research to investigate why and how strong dyadic interfirm ties and two alternative network architectures (a ?strong ties network? and a ?dual network?) impact the innovative capability of the lead firm in an alliance network. I answer these intrinsically cross-level research questions by examining how three design-intensive furnishings manufacturers managed their networks of joint-design alliances with consulting industrial design firms over more than 30 years. Initially, in order to explore the sample lead firms' alliance behavior, I advance an operationalization of interorganizational tie strength. Next, I unveil the strengths of strong ties and the weaknesses of a strong ties network. Finally, I show that the ability to integrate a large periphery of heterogeneous weak ties and a core of strong ties is a distinctive lead firm's relational capability, one that provides fertile ground for leading firms in knowledge-intensive alliance networks to gain competitive advantages whose sustainability is primarily based on the dynamic innovative capability resulting from leveraging a dual network architecture. Copyright ?2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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