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The balancing act: Cooperating with competitors
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
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.
Series
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 81
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60593ISBN: 978-91-7459-504-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-60593DiVA: diva2:561395
Public defence
2012-11-09, Naturvetarhuset, N320, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-10-19 Created: 2012-10-18 Last updated: 2014-03-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Försörjningskedjans dynamik: en studie av småföretag i överlappande nätverk
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Försörjningskedjans dynamik: en studie av småföretag i överlappande nätverk
2009 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Syftet med denna licentiatuppsats är skapa förståelse för hur små företag positionerat i överlappningen mellan olika nätverksstrukturer kan balansera och dra nytta att sin position. Studien behandlar två typer av nätverksstrukturer, dels den hierarkiska försörjningskedjan, dels det strategiska, multilaterala nätverket. Studien har delats upp i två delsyften och ett huvudsyfte. Det första delsyftet är att är att skapa förståelse för styrning och samordning och de kravbilder som småföretaget ställs inför i försörjningskedjan. Det andra delsyftet är att skapa en förståelse för styrning och samordning och de kravbilder som småföretaget ställs inför i det strategiska multilaterala nätverket. Genom att arbeta mot dessa två delsyften ligger de till grund för att nå det huvudsakliga syftet, att skapa en förståelse för hur små företag positionerat i överlappande nätverk balanserar och drar nytta av de kravbilder som de båda nätverken ställer.Studien har ett explorativt syfte och det empiriska arbetet består av två fallstudier som utgår från småföretag som befinner sig i en överlappande position. De båda fallföretagen skiljer sig åt i sin affärsinriktning och sättet att skapa ett mervärde där det första fallföretaget har en relativt enkel teknologi och dess värdeskapande ligger i att de kan producera kostnadseffektivt. Företaget har inga egna produkter eller produktutveckling, en stor del av verksamheten är att fungera som legotillverkare åt andra företag. Det andra fallföretaget är ett högteknologiskt företag som äger sina produkter och en stor del av verksamheten koncentreras till produktutveckling. Dess affärsinriktning är framförallt produktutvckling och ett innovativt agerande. Studien bidrar till forskningsområdet om försörjningskedjor och småföretag. Genom att för det första belysa och skapa förståelse för beroendeförhållanden mellan olika nätverk och visa på hur försörjningskedjan är inbäddad i omkringliggande nätverksstrukturer som i vissa situationer stöttar och förstärker och i andra situationer försvagar varandra bidrar denna studie till forskningsområdet. Genom att för det andra belysa och skapa förståelse för hur småföretag agerar för att balansera och drar nytta av att vara del av dels försörjningskedjor och dels andra multilaterala samarbeten bidrar denna studie till såväl forskningsområdet om försörjningskedjor och forskningsområdet om småföretag.Fallstudierna visar på olika strukturella och relationella förutsättningar som påverkar småföretagens möjlighet att balansera och dra nytta av sin position. Studien visar på såväl spänningar i form av rollkonflikter och konkurrens i överlappningen som trögheter i form av en överinbäddning och starkt socialt kapital i de studerade nätverken. Studien skapar en förståelse för hur dessa spänningar och trögheter kan vara stärkande såväl som tärande för nätverkens konkurrenskraft och påverkar företagets möjlighet att balansera och dra nytta av sin position i överlappande nätverk.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Print och Media, 2009. 177 p.
Series
FE-publikationer: Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet, ISSN 0349-2230 ; 210
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34594 (URN)
Available from: 2010-06-09 Created: 2010-06-09 Last updated: 2012-10-18Bibliographically approved
2. Clashes between contending market regimes: a challenge for firms in converging industries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Clashes between contending market regimes: a challenge for firms in converging industries
2011 (English)In: European Business Review, ISSN 0955-534X, E-ISSN 1758-7107, Vol. 23, no 5, 454-475 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework that describe three contending market regimes in converging industries, and to use this framework to study clashes between the different regimes and the implication they have on firms’ competitive strategies and on the interaction among competitors. More specifically, it is the challenges that develop when competitors simultaneously are acting in accordance with a competitive, a cooperative, and a co-opetitive market regime that are elaborated upon.

Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory study of the interaction between firms within the IT and Telecom industry is conducted using a case study approach with in-depth interviews with 30 informants within the industry together with secondary data.

Findings – The paper brings forward clashes between different market regimes in converging industries and six propositions are formulated.  The study furthermore shows how firms respond differently to a demand-driven convergence, some act in accordance with a competitive regime and try to exclude others whereas others act in accordance with the co-opetitive regime and cooperate with competitors to develop new product offers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011
Keyword
co-opetition, industry convergence, acqusition, market regimes, strategy
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-38867 (URN)10.1108/09555341111158119 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-01-05 Created: 2011-01-05 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
3. Study on balancing cooperation and competition in coopetitive relationships through bridging and bonding
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Study on balancing cooperation and competition in coopetitive relationships through bridging and bonding
(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
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60588 (URN)
Note

To be submitted to European Management Journal

Available from: 2012-10-18 Created: 2012-10-18 Last updated: 2016-03-03Bibliographically approved
4. Interaction in dynamic networks: Role-playing and its implications for innovation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interaction in dynamic networks: Role-playing and its implications for innovation
2012 (English)In: The IMP Journal, ISSN 2059-1403, E-ISSN 0809-7259, Vol. 6, no 1, 17-37 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this article is to explore how firms play different roles within their upstream and downstream interactions and to discuss the implications firms role-playing has for innovation. A case study reveal how firms in the converging IT and telecommunication industries are challenged to manage increasingly temporal and co-opetitive interactions within their long-term relationships. The paper contributes by shedding lights on how firms balance between long-term relationships and short-term interactions, to cooperate and compete simultaneously where a partner in one interaction can be a competitor in another, and how firms’ relational role-playing (with the dimensions of role-flexibility, role-ambiguity and role-tension) can have implications for innovation. A conceptual model is proposed that links long-term relations, short-term interaction and actors’ role-playing and its implications for innovation in networks. An innovation network model is further proposed to depict interactions in dynamic innovation network and as a tool of how to manage different and contradicting roles in upstream and downstream relationships.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Industrial Marketing and Purchasing Group, 2012
Keyword
Industry Convergence, Innovation, Co-opetition, Role-playing, Upstream and Downstream Interaction
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-53957 (URN)
Available from: 2012-04-10 Created: 2012-04-10 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
5. Managing coopetition to create opportunities for small firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing coopetition to create opportunities for small firms
2014 (English)In: International Small Business Journal, ISSN 0266-2426, E-ISSN 1741-2870, Vol. 32, no 4, 401-427 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates how coopetition enables Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to create entrepreneurial opportunities in fast-paced industries. The purpose is to explore the managerial challenges that SMEs face when collaborating with large powerful competitors and examine how they balance the relationship to create and sustain business opportunities through coopetition. Based on three exploratory case studies in the IT and telecom industry, we develop a theoretical model suggesting that SME can manage the liabilities of smallness and newness; and sustain independence in and balance coopetitive relationships with large firms if they develop alliance portfolio managing capabilities. We find that the ability to build legitimacy, to enhance agility and to create role flexibility plays an important role in balancing and navigating among different coopetitive relationships, thereby creating and sustaining opportunities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2014
Keyword
Coopetition, fast-paced industries, entreprenurial opportunity creation, alliance portfolio management capabilities, SME
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-58006 (URN)10.1177/0266242612461288 (DOI)000335440600003 ()
Available from: 2012-08-23 Created: 2012-08-23 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf