Law firms have seen an uptick in M&A activity this year, but the corporate world is increasingly turning to smaller deals and strategic alliances to grow their companies, according to a new survey from professional services firm Deloitte.

Of the 309 executives responding to the survey, 46 percent expect an increase in M&A activity. But an even greater number—54 percent—predict an increase in strategic alliance transactions over the next two years. The most-cited reason for this increase was investment in countries where strategic alliances are required or preferred (35 percent).

“The perception of strategic alliances is changing from a last resort to a preferred investment strategy, especially in emerging markets,” said Chris Ruggeri, who leads Deloitte’s M&A services, “and companies are learning from industries like technology and life sciences that use strategic alliances very effectively to manage risk and capital.”

Corporate boards also are showing a growing interest in mergers. Forty-one percent of respondents said that boards have increased their involvement in M&A activity in the past two years, mostly by requiring more frequent board updates during deals.

Companies are less proactive when it comes to divestitures, though, with 37 percent of those surveyed saying their companies “rarely” or “never” review their portfolios for divestiture opportunities. The study acknowledges that companies generally focus on “growth-oriented, positive activities” rather than shedding assets, but notes that companies who underestimate the level of work required in separations often lose much of a deal’s potential value.

More key findings from the survey are below:

20% of companies are actively pursuing major transactions, according to CFOs

51% of respondents said that strategic alignment of partners is the most important factor in alliances

35% of respondents cited differences of opinion in how to value contributions to the alliance as the factor that most often delays strategic partnerships

40% of companies routinely review their portfolios for potential divestitures

To read more survey results, visit Deloitte’s website.