Coopetition for Organizations

Coopetition for Organizations

Rauno Rusko
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch055
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Coopetition (or co-opetition) is a relatively new concept which emphasizes simultaneous competition and cooperation between firms (See. e.g. Brandenburger & Nalebuff, 1996). In addition to firms, coopetition is also possible between other types of organizations, such as public organizations or between different units of organization. The latter one is called “intra-organizational coopetition.” Thus, coopetition is a multifilament perspective which is suitable tool for considering micro, meso and macro level interactions within and between organizations or networks. Coopetition provides possibilities but also tension between firms in their joint R & D projects (Ritala, 2010). Furthermore, coopetition is not necessarily intentional: there are emergent, unintentional and tacit forms of coopetition due to co-location and spillover effects (Mariani, 2007; Okura, 2007; Kylänen & Rusko, 2011). Coopetition is a feature which we should take into the account in strategic management and in the everyday business activities.

Although the fact, that the culmination period of coopetition concept in management studies is still in progress and continuously developing since middle of 1990’s, the first steps of coopetition concept are relatively old. Smith and Vogel (2010) have noticed that the first documented use of the coopetition concept was in 1913 when the Sealshipt Oyster System coined “co-opetition” to describe the idea of cooperative competition, or cooperating with competitors. In addition, according to Smith and Vogel (2010), in 1937 the historian Rockwell D. Hunt used the concept of “co-opetition” in the magazine of Los Angeles Times. After that, the use of coopetition concept was minor for decades. Then in the 1980s, Raymond Noorda reintroduced this concept to characterise Novell's business strategy. Since 1996, the concept had become familiar to a wider readership through a study presented by Brandenburger and Nalebuff (1996) and several other books focused on coopetition. Since the mid-1990s, many articles have appeared dealing with coopetition and its several nuances such as dyadic coopetition (Bengtsson and Kock, 2000; 2003) and multifaceted coopetition (e.g. Luo, 2004b; see, also Rusko, 2011b)

The scientific status of coopetition is still developing. According to Padula and Dagnino (2007), the theoretical conceptualization of coopetition is relatively underdeveloped and it has not been achieved the status of paradigm in the same way as competition or cooperation (see also Bengtsson et al., 2010; Choi et al., 2010). According to Bengtsson and her colleagues (2010, 196):

…co-opetition could be perceived as a new model for problem solving, where knowledge about co-opetition can have fruitful outcomes for existing paradigms on competition. However, we argue that co-opetition is a complementary paradigm.

Because of collaborative element of coopetition, it has several nearly resembling concepts, such as strategic alliances, collusions (or cartels), supply chain management and co-location. Rusko (2011a) has defined the status of coopetition related with strategic alliance and collusion using following figure (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Typical relationships between the strategic alliance, coopetition, and collusion (Rusko, 2011a)


The elements of strategic alliance are mainly cooperative and for cartels and collusions they are mainly competitive. Coopetition has both competitive and collaborative features and it covers partly (competitive) strategic alliances and cartels/collusions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Emergent Coopetition: Coopetition is not the initial aim of the relationship between the actors, but gradually actors will drift into coopetition relationship.

Multifaceted Coopetition: Coopetition, which involves in several stakeholders. E.g. value net introduced by Brandenburger and Nalebuff (1996) is one form of multifaceted coopetition.

Contextual Coopetition: A context approach of coopetition, where several stakeholders are involved in the coopetitive activities.

Unintentional Coopetition: Coopetition, which is not intentional. Nearly similar to tacit or emergent coopetition. Reasons for unintentional coopetition are based on geographical proximity (co-location) and spillover effects, among others.

Coopetitive Advantage: In addition to value co-creation, the competing firms are seeking opportunistic way even the value appreciation, which also creates tension between the coopetitive firms.

Dyadic Coopetition: The basic case of coopetition. The competitive firms are cooperating without any stakeholders involved in the relationship.

Collusion: Illegal (downstream) cooperative activities between competing firms, e.g. price cartel.

Intra-Organizational Coopetition: Coopetition between the units of the same organization. Coopetition within the organization.

Procedural Coopetition: In procedural coopetition, the coopetition is described as developing through the mutual interaction between two or more entities.

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