a1 Senior Research Fellow, Health Policy Research Unit, Bosworth House, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH E-mail: email@example.com.
This paper addresses the incentives and impediments to alliance formation in the UK health consumer group sector. Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council shows that links between groups are extensive and highly valued. However, they take place in the context of competition for resources and influence within New Labour's reform agenda. Drawing on theories from sociology and political science this paper shows how in recent years the working environment of groups has shaped cooperation. However, alliance working carries opportunity costs and doubts remain about their ability to survive once these external stimuli disappear.