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date: 28 May 2020

Coopetition

Summary and Keywords

Ray Noorda, the former CEO of Novell Inc., first coined the term “coopetition” in 1992 to describe a common phenomenon in the computer industry: cooperation between competitors. This phenomenon is inconsistent with classical economic and business theory going as far back as Adam Smith, who viewed the production system as based on a separation between suppliers and buyers. Micro-economists have traditionally viewed the firm as buying raw materials and components from suppliers, producing finished goods, and selling those goods in competition with other firms to a different set of firms or consumers. However, starting in the 1990s, research on forms of cooperative relationships between competitors became very common. The most common types are (a) competing firms engaging in horizontal alliances along the same level of the value chain and (b) vertical cooperation along different levels of the value chain between suppliers and firms in the focal industry or between customers and firms.

In the last 25 years, there has been a great increase in research on coopetition. In a systematic literature review conducted in 2014, one researcher found over 130 academic articles in more than 80 academic publications published since 1996. The majority of the research to date has been qualitative, with many cases studied conducted. A number of special issues in academic journals have been devoted to the topic in general or to special topics concerning coopetition. The Strategic Management Journal organized a special issue in 2018 on the interplay of competition and cooperation, and a number of workshops have been held on coopetition strategy and innovation.

Keywords: coopetition, cooperation, competition, competitive strategy, game theory, resource dependence theory

Samsung’s mobile phone division’s strategic strength lies in creating synergy through coopetition with the world’s best supplier of memory, application processors, display panels, and batteries, while pursuing continuous innovation.

(Song et al., 2016)

This quotation from an interview with the former CEO of Samsung Electronics Jong-Kyun Shin illustrates a phenomenon that has grown in frequency and importance in the last 20 years: cooperation between competitors—often called “coopetition.” Ray Noorda, the former CEO of Novell Inc., first coined the term in 1992 to describe a common occurrence in the computer industry (Fischer, 1992; Luo, Slotegraaf, & Pan, 2006). This author, together with colleagues (Dowling, Roering, Carlin, & Wisnieski, 1996), first attempted to describe coopetition, developed a typology for different types of coopetition, and tried to understand how management theory explains the existence of such “unnatural” relationships. In a separate article with colleagues at a large telecommunications company, they reviewed how the phenomenon of coopetition is spreading to other industries and how different companies manage the complexity of such relations (Carlin et al., 1994). At about the same time, Brandenburger and Nalebuff (1996) used game theory from microeconomics to study coopetition. As firms have become more global, the likelihood of competitors also cooperating has increased (Yu, 2008).

In the last 25 years, there has been a great increase in research on coopetition. In a systematic literature review conducted in 2014, Bouncken, Gast, Kraus, and Bogers(2015) found over 130 academic articles in over 80 academic publications published since 1996. The majority of the research to date has been qualitative, with many cases studied conducted. A number of special issues in academic journals have been devoted to the topic in general or to special topics concerning coopetition (Dagnino, 2007; Le Roy & Yami, 2009). The Strategic Management Journal organized a special issue in 2018 on the interplay of competition and cooperation, and a number of workshops have been held on coopetition strategy and innovation (Hoffmann, Lavie, Reuer, & Shipilov, 2018b).

This article reviews the concept of coopetition in some depth. First, it will define the 2018 concept in contrast to the classical notions of competition and cooperation. Next, it describes different types of coopetition relations. The article then reviews the management theories that are most useful for understanding why coopetition arises and persists. Next, it discusses management strategies for dealing with coopetition. Finally, it reviews some of the research findings on coopetition and addresses future research issues.

Competition Versus Cooperation

Adam Smith viewed the production system as including a separation between suppliers and buyers (Smith & Campbell, 2009). Based on this tradition, and using micro-economic theory, economists have traditionally viewed the firm as buying raw materials and components from suppliers, producing finished goods, and selling those goods in competition with other firms to a different set of firms or consumers (Porter, 1980). In the 1990s, research on forms of cooperative relationships became very common, and many researchers explored the advantages and disadvantages of various forms. The most common types are (a) competing firms engaging in horizontal alliances along the same level of the value chain (Alter, 1990; Borys & Jemison, 1989; Hamel et al., 1989) and (b) vertical cooperation along different levels of the value chain between suppliers and firms in the focal industry or between customers and firms (Provan, 1993; Spekman & Johnson, 1986).

In the late 1990s, researchers began examining the phenomenon of “coopetition,” where competitors simultaneously cooperate. Harbison, Pekar, and Stasior (1998) found that approximately 50% of cooperative relationships actually take place between competitors. However, according to Porter’s (1980) famous model, using a competitor as a supplier or a buyer simultaneously increases risks in the buyer–supplier bargaining relationship due to transfers of knowledge. Complex relationships such as these may increase costs, reduce stability, and increase uncertainty. However, despite such negative factors, researchers have found coopetition to exist and persist in many industries. It is interesting to try to understand what types of relationships exist and how and why such “coopetition” occurs and persists.

Types of Coopetition

Dowling et al. (1996) developed a typology of interorganizational relationships, placing coopetition as a form between classical competition and cooperation. (See Figure 1.) The first type of relationships (far left column) is classical competitive markets where firms compete either horizontally (Box 1) or exchange goods and services vertically along the value chain (Box 4). The far right column represents traditional cooperative relationships between customers and suppliers along the vertical value chain (Box 3), or alliances between noncompetitors that combine their respective products or services to serve different markets (Box 6).

Coopetition

Figure 1. Types of coopetitive relationships.

Source: Author’s own compilation.

Coopetition is described in the middle column. Vertical coopetition occurs when direct competitors are linked in a buyer–supplier relationship (Box 2). In a June 2014 Vanity Fair article titled “The Great Smartphone War,” Kurt Eichenwald describes a very good example with his detailed case of the coopetition that has developed over the last few years between Samsung of Korea and Apple of the United States.

On August 4, 2010, amid the bustle of downtown Seoul, a small group of executives from Apple Inc. pushed through the revolving door into a blue-tinted, 44-story glass tower, ready to fire the first shot in what would become one of the bloodiest corporate wars in history. The showdown had been brewing since spring, when Samsung launched the Galaxy S, a new entry into the smartphone market. Apple had snagged one early overseas and gave it to the iPhone team at its Cupertino, California, headquarters. The designers studied it with growing disbelief. The Galaxy S, they thought, was pure piracy. The overall appearance of the phone, the screen, the icons, even the box looked the same as the iPhone’s. Patented features such as “rubber-banding,” in which a screen image bounces slightly when a user tries to scroll past the bottom, were identical. Same with “pinch to zoom,” which allows users to manipulate image size by pinching the thumb and forefinger together on the screen. And on and on.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s mercurial chief executive, was furious. His teams had toiled for years creating a breakthrough phone, and now, Jobs fumed, a competitor—an Apple supplier no less!—had stolen the design and many features. Jobs and Tim Cook, his chief operating officer, had spoken with Samsung president Jay Y. Lee in July to express their concern about the similarities of the two phones but received no satisfactory response.

After weeks of delicate dancing, of smiling requests and impatient urgings, Jobs decided to take the gloves off. Hence the meeting in Seoul. The Apple executives were escorted to a conference room high in the Samsung Electronics Building, where they were greeted by about half a dozen Korean engineers and lawyers. Dr. Seungho Ahn, a Samsung vice president, was in charge, according to court records and people who attended the meeting. After some pleasantries, Chip Lutton, then Apple’s associate general counsel for intellectual property, took the floor and put up a PowerPoint slide with the title “Samsung’s Use of Apple Patents in Smartphones.” Then he went into some of the similarities he considered especially outrageous, but the Samsung executives showed no reaction. So Lutton decided to be blunt.

“Galaxy copied the iPhone,” he said. “What do you mean, copied?” Ahn replied.

“Exactly what I said,” Lutton insisted. “You copied the iPhone. The similarities are completely beyond the possibility of coincidence.”

Ahn would have none of it. “How dare you say that,” he snapped. “How dare you accuse us of that!” He paused, then said, “We’ve been building cell phones forever. We have our own patents, and Apple is probably violating some of those. ” The message was clear. If Apple executives pursued a claim against Samsung for stealing the iPhone, Samsung would come right back at them with a theft claim of its own. The battle lines were drawn. In the months and years that followed, Apple and Samsung would clash on a scale almost unprecedented in the business world, costing the two companies more than a billion dollars and engendering millions of pages of legal papers, multiple verdicts and rulings, and more hearings.

Despite the difficulties between Samsung and Apple, they have continued to maintain a supplier–buyer relationship, with Apple using Samsung components for key parts of the Apple I-phone. Such a relationship is represented in Figure 2. However, sometimes the competition occurs outside the market and indirectly instead, such as with the patent lawsuits that both Samsung and Apple filed against each other, as shown in Figure 3.

Coopetition

Figure 2. Types of coopetitive relationships: Vertical relationship (Type 1).

Source: Author’s own compilation.

Coopetition

Figure 3. Types of coopetitive relationships: Vertical relationship (Type 2).

Source: Author’s own compilation.

In addition to coopetition in vertical relationships, sometimes competitors form cooperative relationships along the same stage of the value chain (Figure 1, Box 5). Such relationships often occur when competitors wish to pool their resources in order to compete against other groups of firms. One older example is the joint venture between VW in Germany and Ford in the United States to build mini-vans in the same plant in Portugal. The cars were identical but competed in the market under different brand names. (See Figure 4.) This cooperation allowed for higher economies of scale for both companies and therefore lower unit costs. In addition, both companies could maintain their own branding in the market.

Coopetition

Figure 4. Types of coopetitive relationships: Horizontal relationship.

Source: Author’s own compilation.

There are many examples in different industries of whole networks of firms in competition in some areas but cooperating in others. The various airline alliances such as Staralliance (Lufthansa, United Airlines, and others) versus the Oneworld alliance (American Airlines, British Airways and others) represent coopetition of this type. (Oum & Park, 1997).

Finally, earlier research also found examples of very complex coopetition situations. Carlin et al. (1994) and Dowling (1995) describe the case of BellSouth, one of the seven so-called Baby Bells resulting from the breakup of AT&T after deregulation of the U.S. telecommunicatons industry. BellSouth found itself confronted with the complex situation shown in Figure 5.

Coopetition

Figure 5. Example of complex coopetitive relationships in the early 1990s.

Source: Author’s own compilation.

AT&T, as the former parent company of BellSouth, was simultaneously a supplier of networking equipment, a partner providing long-distance services to connect local BellSouth customers to their national and international networks, a competitor in the business market for company-specific services, and finally a potential competitor attempting to reenter the local telecommunications network business. BellSouth established a relationship manager position to handle the multifacited complexity of these connections. A large part of the complexity was reduced in the late 1990s when AT&T split off its equipment making division to form Lucent Technologies, thereby ending the supplier relationship. BellSouth managed the customer relationship internally with the relationship manager. Finally, BellSouth later merged with other regional bell companies to reform AT&T in 2006.

Theoretical Explanations

The previous section reviewed types of coopetiton. Next the article reviews several theoretical explanations that are useful to explain why such “unnatural” relationships are formed and continue to exist over longer periods of time.

Game Theory

As mentioned, Brandenburger and Nalebuff (1996) used game theory from microeconomics to explain coopetition in their book Co-opetition. Their work built on classical game theory (Nash, 1950; von Neumann & Morgenstern, 1944). Specifically, Brandenburger and Nalebuff introduced the concept of “complementors,” that is, firms whose products are only useful when used together (e.g., Intel microprocessors with the Microsoft Windows operating system).

Another example based on game theory is when firms in the same horizontal stage of the value chain cooperate in technology and new product development to generate new knowledge but then compete to exploit that knowledge. For example, German car companies have cooperated in the development of battery technologies but compete in the market with their own vehicles. Such technology partnerships have advantages such as cost reductions, resource sharing, and technological transfer. (Bouncken, Fredrich, Ritala, & Kraus, 2017). This research suggests that firms begin with cooperative behavior for development of knowledge and then grow into competitors once products are ready for market.

Resource Dependence Theory

In their seminal book, Pfeffer and Salancik (1978) suggested that firms use different kinds of interorganizational relationships in order to reduce dependencies on external resources. They distinguished between “competitive” and “symbiotic” or cooperative relationships but also recognized that both forms could exist simultaneously.

Interdependence existing between two social actors need not be either competitive or symbiotic—frequently, relationships contain both forms of interdependence simultaneously. For instance, a conglomerate firm may sell the product of one of its divisions to another firm, thereby existing in a symbiotic relationship, and at the same time be in competition with that other firm in the sale of the product of a different division. (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978, p. 41).

Earlier research (Dowling et al., 1996) found an example of such coopetition between Dupont and 3M Corporation, as shown in Figure 6. In this case, four divisions of the two companies were partners in buyer–supplier relationships. Two other divisions competed directly in the marketplace.

Coopetition

Figure 6. Coopetition between divisions of different companies.

Source: Author’s own compilation.

Pfeffer and Salancik (1978) also discuss three environmental factors that influence the likelihood that firms will use cooperation or coopetition.

  • Concentration—the extent to which power is dispersed in an industry

  • Munificence—the availability of critical resources

  • Interconnectedness—the number and pattern of linkages between organizations

Their theory suggests that in concentrated industries dominated by larger firms, there will be great potential for coopetition because buyer–supplier networks will be larger and could include competitors. Bouncken et al. (2015) found 13 studies on cooperation and competition in buyer–supplier relationships (e.g., Eriksson, 2008; Gurnani, Erkoc, & Luo, 2007; Lacoste, 2012).

Munificent environments have more widely available resources. In less munificent environments, where there is greater competition for scarce resources, firms may find it necessary to cooperate with rivals. In particular, research has shown that in environments where firms are competing to develop new products and other kinds of innovations, coopetition can lead to greater success in general and with radical innovations in particular. (e.g., Bouncken & Fredrich, 2012; Gast, Filser, Gundolf, & Kraus, 2015; Quintana-Garcia & Benavides-Velasco, 2004).

Finally, interconnectedness may increase the prevalence of coopetition or the complexity of the relationships. The case of BellSouth reviewed earlier shows how the interconnectedness due to regulatory schemes initially led to very complex relationships that were only resolved over time. In international markets, firms may find themselves competing in one market and cooperating in others. General Electric, with its broad range of businesses, has long dealt with such relationships, leading former CEO Jack Welch to state: “Who is my customer in the morning, my rival in the afternoon, and my supplier in the evening?” (Bradley, 1993).

Researchers examining global competition have often found coopetition among global firms (Gnyawali & Park, 2011; Luo, 2007) and with foreign governments (Luo, 2004). In addition to these external factors, resource dependence theory (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978) suggests that three internal factors may also increase the likelihood of coopetition arising:

  • Importance of the resource—defined by what percentage of inputs/outputs of the focal organization are involved in an exchange and how critical they are to the organization.

  • Discretion over resource use—determined by the amount of knowledge possessed by the focal organization about the resource, the access the organization has, and/or the ability to make rules about the possession and use of the resource.

  • Concentration of resource control—whether the focal organization has access to the resource from additional sources (Dowling et al., 1996).

Researchers have shown that in the search for external knowledge resources, firms will sometimes be willing to cooperate with competitors. (Bengtsson & Kock, 2000; Enberg, 2012; Padula & Dagnino, 2007). Some limited research has been conducted on coopetition as a means for smaller (Bengtsson & Johansson, 2014; Thomason, Simendinger, & Kiernan, 2013) or entrepreneurial firms (Hora, Gast, Kailer, Rey-Marti, & Mas-Tur, 2018) to gain access to needed resources.

Technological Change

In a more recent theoretical article, Cozzolino and Rotharmel (2018) argue that different types of technological discontinuities will have a major impact on the amount and type of coopetition and coopetition in various industries. Building particularly on the ideas of Teece (1986; weak and tight appropriability of complementary assents), Cozzolino and Rotharmel develop a detailed theoretical framework (supplemented with many examples from different industries). They suggest that the level and type of cooperation versus coopetition will depend on whether technological discontinuities occur in the core-knowledge and resource strengths of incumbents or if they occur instead downstream in the distribution or manufacturing of products or services. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology start-ups in the 1980s developed new drug testing and development methods that fundamentally changed the necessary resources for firms to remain competitive. Researchers showed (Roethaermel, 2001; Stuart, Hoang, & Hybels, 1999) that established pharmaceutical firms that could not develop these new resources fast enough often entered into vertical coopetition relationships with biotech start-up firms in the form of licensing agreements to market and distribute new biotech-based products improving both the performance of the incumbents and the new entrants. In other industries (e.g., music and film industries) with different types of technological discontinuities, horizontal coopetition was common between incumbent firms to cooperate with new entrants (e.g., music producers with Internet-based distributors such as Spotify). In other industries, where appropriability of key resources is weak, incumbents are more likely to form horizontal coopetition with rival firms in order to compete more effectively against new entrants. An example of such horizontal coopetition is industry research and development (R&D) consortia that were developed in the 1990s (e.g., SEMATECH) to meet the challenge of Japanese entrants in the semiconductor industry in the United States.

Transaction Cost Economics

Ronald Coase first introduced the concept of transaction costs in his 1937 paper “The Nature of the Firm” and later referred to the “costs of market transactions” in his seminal work “The Problem of Social Cost” (Coase, 1960). Williamson (1975) further extended the concept of transaction costs to study the most efficient structures within and between organizations and developed the theory of transaction cost economics (TCE). In particular, Williamson addresses how opportunism on the part of either party in buyer–supplier partnerships may lead to higher transaction costs. Williamson argued (1975) that such costs are higher when firms are simultaneously in a buyer–supplier relationship and are competitors as well.

Another important aspect of TCE is how transaction specific assets affect interorganizational relationships. Such assets (either physical or knowledge-based) may be difficult to replace if a buyer or supplier suddenly becomes a competitor as well. There was such a case in Germany in the 1980s, as illustrated in Figure 7. Siemens was a long-time supplier of semiconductor devices to Bosch, the leading German automotive electronics company. The firms were also partners in a home appliance joint venture. In the mid-1980s, a group of engineers working in Regensburg, Germany, developed a new electronic device that had application in the automotive industry. The corporate headquarters initially blocked the entry of this group into the same industry as Bosch. However, the group in Regensburg persisted and eventually entered the market and competed directly with Bosch. But Bosch was not amused and retaliated by reducing its purchases of semiconductors from Siemens. Bosch had no other choice but to accept the coopetition for a long period of time. In recent years, Bosch took total control of the houseware joint venture, and Siemens sold its automotive division to the German tire company Continental, thereby removing the coopetitive relationships.

Coopetition

Figure 7. Example of transaction-specific assets in a coopetitive relationship.

Source: Author’s own compilation.

Managerial Strategies to Deal With Coopetiton

As discussed over 20 years ago by Dowling et al. (1996), firms have two possible strategies to deal with coopetiton: avoidance or adaptation. After much more research on this topic, these fundamental choices have not changed.

Avoidance and Exit

When a firm finds itself by chance or design in an unwanted coopetitive relationship, it can seek to exit that relationship through either acquisition or divestiture. In 1996, Dowling et al. reviewed the case of BMW, which found itself in a coopetition with Honda after acquiring Rover cars in the United Kingdom. Honda supplied engine technology to Rover but competed intensely with BMW in Japan. Rather than accepting a coopetitive relationship, Honda preferred to exit the buyer–supplier relationship it had previously maintained before the acquisition. In the AT&T–Bellsouth case reviewed earlier, the coopetition that resulted from the breakup of AT&T through a court decision was changed over time. The two firms were able to exit their coopetitive relationships, and BellSouth was eventually integrated into a newly formed AT&T together with other regional Bell operating companies.

Adaptation and Proaction

Research has shown that the prevalence of firms managing coopetition has increased and that firms have used different methods to deal with this complexity (Bouncken et al., 2015). For example, Hung and Chang (2012) found that firms sometimes use contracts to protect their business from the risks of coopetition. Other researchers have suggested that firms must take a proactive approach to determine exactly what should be shared and what must be kept protected in coopetition (Levy, Loebbecke, & Powell, 2003). This strategy is similar to the centralization strategy with “relationship managers” identified in 1994 at BellSouth (Carlin et al., 1994). Bengtsson and Kock (2000) suggested that coopetitive interactions should be separated into different units. Dowling et al. (1996) suggested this separation strategy with the Dupont-3M case reviewed earlier. Other researchers have found that firms can build better capabilities to proactively pursue a coopetition strategy (Chin, Chan, & Lam, 2008; Enberg, 2012; Gnyawali & Park, 2011).

Many researchers have found that the benefits of coopetition can often outweigh the risks (Gnywali & Park, 2009; Luo, 2007; Walley, 2007), especially when competing firms pool their R&D resources and activities to compete with other groups of firms. Others have found that there are clear benefits for smaller firms to cooperate with competitors in order to gain access to markets and grow faster (Lechner, Soppe, & Dowling, 2016). Such firms often need to develop “social capital” in addition to financial capital in order to develop their businesses quickly.

But the risks of coopetition are also clear. Dowling et al. (1996) identified the potential management costs in managing the complexity of coopetition. As Bouncken et al. (2015, p.15) clearly stated:

coopetition is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, it can be positively related to a company’s growth, its competitiveness and innovativeness, and its ability to deal with the turbulent business environments. On the other hand, it (coopetition) is fraught with difficulties.

In Italy, glass companies began to cooperate so they could specialize in the types of glass offered (auto, windows, etc.) but then began to also exchange information about prices. European antitrust authorities found general cooperation to be acceptable, but price fixing was anticompetitive and led to heavy fines. This case shows that some coopetition can be beneficial, but too much carries risks.

Directions for Future Research

When the present author and colleagues first starting researching coopetition over 20 years ago, they initially believed such “unnatural” relationships would be relatively rare and not long-lasting. Empirical research has found that such relationships are in fact common and may even be increasing in frequency, particularly in high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries (Bouncken & Kraus, 2013; Carayannis & Alexander, 1999; Gnywali & Park, 2009; Lai, Su, Weng, & Chen, 2007; Pun, 2013; Qunitana-Garcia & Benavides-Velasco, 2004). The prevalence of coopetition between small and/or entrepreneurial firms also seems to be increasing, as small firms are willing to overcome the “liability of newness” by cooperating with larger competitors (Lechner, Soppe, & Dowling, 2014; Levy et al., 2003; Morris Kocak, & Ozer, 2007; Thomason et al., 2013).

Bouncken et al. (2015) found that most research at the time of their review had been qualitative and based on case studies. A more recent example of qualitative research is the multiple case study article of Hannah and Eisenhardt (2018) that examines coopetition in the residential solar energy industry in the United States from 2007 to 2014. They found different kinds of coopetition strategies in an ecosystem industry such as solar energy.

In recent years, some researchers have been able to collect interesting data sets to test statistically theories on coopetition in a number of different industry settings. For example, a very interesting and recent empirical paper shows the potential for quantitative research on coopetition in the area of new technology development. Ranganathan, Ghosh, and Rosenkopf (2018) constructed a unique database on the communication and voting behaviors of 115 firms involved in standard setting committees of the International Committee for Information Technology Standards over 15 years. Using data collected on communication within and between firms, minutes of meetings, voting patterns, patent data, and firm financial data, this research team analyzed competition and cooperation in the standard setting process. Their results suggest that the complete ecosystems of firms have a major impact on coopetition. Such coopetition in the very important standard-setting process may shape technological development where standards play an important role.

Doblinger, Soppe, and Huber (2019) recently presented their findings of a study on coopetitive ties and innovation in the early clean transportation industry. They tested a series of hypotheses through the lens of institutional complexity with data from a sample of 287 start-ups and their interfirm relationships from 2008 to 2012. They found that although the tensions involved in coopetitive relationships may lead to increased innovation, the risk of knowledge outflows and opportunism seems to deter investors.

Cui, Yang, and Vertinsky (2018) explored collaboration and competition between strategic alliance partners in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry between 1984 and 2003. They found an interesting U-shaped relationship between the proportion of exploratory alliances in a collaborative portfolio and the firm’s level of competition against its partner.

More such quantitative studies are needed, but researchers will often find it difficult to obtain the necessary data for such studies. Although a number of studies have been conducted on the role of coopetition in fostering innovation (both radical and incremental), there is still much potential to examine the effects of coopetition on innovation in different contexts such as open innovation or social innovation. Such research will provide opportunities for researchers in the fields of strategic management, innovation management, entrepreneurship, and others. Further research on coopetition in different settings such as family firms, public firms, non-governmental organizations, smaller firms, and medium-sized firms would also be useful (e.g., Lechner et al., 2014, 2016).

In their introduction to the Strategic Management Journal special issue in 2018, Hoffmann, Lavie, Reuer, and Shipilov (2018a) outline five specific areas where further research on coopetiton is needed:

  1. 1. Studying the antecedents, processes, and consequences of cooperating with competitors.

  2. 2. Examining value creation and appropriation in coopetitive relationships.

  3. 3. Exploring a temporal dimension (i.e., the dynamic interplay between competition and cooperation at firm, partnership, network, and industry levels).

  4. 4. Developing the capabilities and organizational structures for supporting coopetition.

  5. 5. Developing new methods such as network analysis to study coopetition.

Based on these areas, Hoffman et al. (2018a) developed a detailed road map to guide further research in the future.

Such research will also provide guidance to managers who must increasingly deal with coopetition. Rather than simply avoiding or exiting such relationships, managers can proactively manage such complexity to gain and maintain competitive advantage in many situations. To do so, firms must develop competencies and internal structures to manage both cooperation and coopetition simultaneously.

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