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Study on balancing cooperation and competition in coopetitive relationships through bridging and bonding
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Business Administration.
Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Coopetitive relationships, with simultaneous cooperation and competition, are argued to be beneficial for the development of competitive advantage. To obtain and maintain such advantage over time the relationship however needs to be balanced. Through two longitudinal case studies we examine how bridging and bonding activities can facilitate and restrict the balancing of coopetitive relationships. Our findings illustrate changes in coopetitive relationships over time, focusing how these changes affect the coopetitive balance. We show how bridging and bonding possibilities arise in coopetitive relationships, how bridging and bonding are related and influence each other, and outline mechanisms in the different processes that facilitate and restrict firms’ ability to balance coopetitive relationships over time. The study offer implications for the literature on firms’ capabilities to manage coopetition as a strategy.

National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60588OAI: diva2:561348

To be submitted to European Management Journal

Available from: 2012-10-18 Created: 2012-10-18 Last updated: 2016-03-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The balancing act: Cooperating with competitors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The balancing act: Cooperating with competitors
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Coopetition, the strategy by which companies cooperate and compete simultaneously in their business relationships, has received increasing attention from scholars and practitioners the last decade. Despite the recognized importance for firms to develop strategies to manage coopetitive relationships, the ways in which firms cope with strategic dilemmas in coopetition has not been sufficiently researched.  Firms engaging in coopetition may encounter contradictions, paradoxes and tensions that need to be managed in order for the business relationships to be beneficial.

This doctoral thesis consists of five individual but related studies with the overarching aim to advance the understanding of firms’ capabilities to balance strategic dilemmas in coopetition. The thesis addresses three research questions.  How do firms balance interaction, roles and expectation in coopetition? How do firms balance power and dependency through portfolios of relationship in coopetition? How do firms balance temporalities in coopetition?

All five research papers explore different aspects of the ways in which companies balance contradicting logics of interactions in coopetition, and how firms manage tensions in the interactions, which is critical for the coopetitive relationships to evolve and be beneficial. Three of the papers examine firms’ capability to adhere to and balance different roles and expectations in coopetition. Firms need to be flexible in their role-playing behavior to act as customers, partners, supplier and competitors in a relationship. These roles come with conflicting role expectations. Firms’ role-playing capability is related to the mindset that is needed in their role performance.

Moreover, the thesis investigates how Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) balance power and dependency through portfolios of relationships. These findings are reported in three of the research papers and cover both how SMEs balance asymmetric buyer-supplier relationships by building coopetitive relationships with SME competitors and how small firms build and reconfigure portfolios of relationships to balance their relationship with large competitors. The thesis uncovers how SME are able to sustain independence in and to balance asymmetric coopetitive relationships if they develop alliance portfolio managing capabilities; build legitimacy, enhance agility and create role flexibility. These capabilities are found to be critical for small firms in balancing and navigating among different coopetitive relationships, thereby creating and sustaining business opportunities.

Finally, the thesis explores how companies balance temporalities in coopetition. Two of the research papers uncover firms’ capabilities to balance this dilemma. The studies uncover how firms encounter dilemmas to interact on a temporary basis while sustaining important long-term relations in coopetition and how increased temporary relationships combined with long-term relationships can create both dynamics and tensions and how these tensions need to be managed in order to be beneficial.

To conclude, this thesis has comprehensively explored firms’ capabilities to balance strategic dilemmas in coopetition through five studies with different theoretical approaches and multiple cases of large and small firms in different industry settings, covering both more stable industries and dynamic and rapidly changing industries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2012. 67 p.
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 81
National Category
Business Administration
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60593 (URN)978-91-7459-504-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-11-09, Naturvetarhuset, N320, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-10-19 Created: 2012-10-18 Last updated: 2014-03-11Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, MarleneBengtsson, MariaEriksson, JessicaWincent, Joakim
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