Firms with low levels of internationalization may feel the need to speed up their international development in order to be able to compete with multinational enterprises (MNEs) of bigger size and wider scope. Global alliances are a means to achieve such an accelerated process, not only because they allow firms to gain access to several markets at the same time, but also because they make it possible to enhance their own international competitiveness through the use of their partners' resources. This paper provides a detailed illustration of the competitive uses of global alliances as a means to accelerate the international expansion of the firm. Using evidence from 11 case studies on Spanish firms, we build a typology of four cooperative strategies. One of these strategies is based on local alliances, whereas the remaining three are based on global alliances. The paper presents a detailed case study of the firm which best fits each strategy found in global alliances. The implications of each strategy for alliance management, together with the possible evolution of each them, are also discussed. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.