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Coopetition or co-opetition (sometimes spelled "coopertition" or "co-opertition") is a neologism coined to describe cooperative competition. Coopetition is a portmanteau of cooperation and competition. Basic principles of co-opetitive structures have been described in game theory, a scientific field that received more attention with the book Theory of Games and Economic Behavior in 1944 and the works of John Forbes Nash on non-cooperative games. Coopetition occurs both at inter-organizational or intra-organizational levels.



The concept and term coopetition and its variants have been re-coined several times in history.

The concept appeared as early as 1913, being used to describe the relationships among proximate independent dealers of the Sealshipt Oyster System, who were instructed to cooperate for the benefit of the system while competing with each other for customers in the same city. [1]


The term and the ideas around co-opetition gained wide attention within the business community after the publication in 1996 of the book by Brandenberger and Nalebuff bearing the same title. Until today this remains the reference work for both researchers and practitioners alike.

Giovanni Battista Dagnino and Giovanna Padula's conceptualized in their conference paper (2002) [2] that, at inter-organisational level, coopetition occurs when companies interact with partial congruence of interests. They cooperate with each other to reach a higher value creation if compared to the value created without interaction and struggle to achieve competitive advantage.

Often coopetition takes place when companies that are in the same market work together in the exploration of knowledge and research of new products, at the same time that they compete for market-share of their products and in the exploitation of the knowledge created. In this case, the interactions occur simultaneously and in different levels in the value chain. This is the case in the arrangement between PSA Peugeot Citroën and Toyota to share components for a new city car—simultaneously sold as the Peugeot 107, the Toyota Aygo, and the Citroën C1, where companies save money on shared costs while remaining fiercely competitive in other areas.

Several advantages can be foreseen, as cost reductions, resources complementarity and technological transfer. Some difficulties also exist, as distribution of control, equity in risk, complementary needs and trust.

It is possible for more than two companies to be involved in coopetition with one another. Another possible case for coopetition is joint resource management in construction. Sadegh Asgari and his colleagues [3] (2013) present a short-term partnering case in which construction contractors form an alliance, agreeing to put all or some of their resources in a joint pool for a fixed duration of time and to allocate the group resources using a more cost-effective plan.

Marcello Mariani (2007) [4] examined that in practice policy makers and regulators can trigger, promote, and affect coopetitive interactions among economic actors that did not intentionally plan to coopete before the external institutional stakeholders (i.e., a policy maker or regulator) created the conditions for the emergence of coopetititon.

Sadegh Asgari, Abbas Afshar and Kaveh Madani [3] (2013) suggested cooperative game theory as the basis for fair and efficient allocation of the incremental benefits of cooperation among the cooperating contractors. Their study introduced a new paradigm in construction resource planning and allocation. Contractors no longer see each other as just competitors; they look for cooperation beyond their competition in order to reduce their costs.


At the intra-organizational level, coopetition occurs between individuals or functional units within the same organization. Based on game theory [5] and social interdependence theories, some studies investigate the presence of simultaneous cooperation and competition among functional units, the antecedents of coopetition, and its impact on knowledge sharing behaviors. For example, the concept of coopetitive knowledge sharing is developed to explain mechanisms through which coopetition influences effective knowledge sharing practices in cross-functional teams. [6] The underlying argument is that while organizational teams need to cooperate, they are likely to experience tension caused by diverse professional philosophies and competing goals from different cross-functional representatives. [7]


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