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The Koopetition (engl. "Coopetition") is both a state and a behavior of ( economic -) coincide actors in the cooperation and competition in a relationship. It is made up of the words cooperation and competition and was introduced into the general strategy discussion in 1996 with the book Co-opetition by the game theorists Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff .


The term "cooperation" was coined for the first time in 1992 by John Noorda, the then chairman of the board of the network product manufacturer Novell, when he used it to describe the company's strategic direction.

At the level of overall corporate relationships, one can speak of a co-petition when companies are in competition for some value creation activities (e.g. sales) and cooperate with one another in others (e.g. research). The joint development of standards, such as the Blu-ray Disc , by competing manufacturers can be viewed as a cooperation, as can the relationship between two companies that are fighting in legal proceedings on the one hand and producing complementary products on the other.

In addition, the cooperation can also describe partial relationships that are characterized by cooperative and competitive elements. This then includes all behaviors and conditions that are neither exclusively cooperative nor exclusively competitive. For this reason, co-opetition is seen by some as a more realistic paradigm .

Individual consideration


Competition between two economic actors can initially be viewed as a form of social interaction in which both interaction partners show an opposing behavioral interdependence. This means that the objectives of the first economic actor can only be achieved at the expense of the second economic actor. In game theory, this situation is modeled as a zero-sum game, since the profit of one actor equals the loss of another actor. In general, competition is seen as a relationship between companies in which economic efficiency is ensured. This is because competition brings about the optimal allocation of resources, promotes the willingness to innovate and also lowers transaction costs between competitors.


Cooperation between two economic actors can initially be viewed as a form of social interaction in which both interaction partners show a behavioral interdependence in the same direction. This means that the achievement of the goals of one actor logically depends on the goals of the other actor being achieved (at least in part). In the case of a cooperation, the market participants remain independent beyond their agreed area of ​​cooperative cooperation and thus the cooperation must be distinguished from the merger .

In cooperation, companies can bundle their resources, for example to expand the range of their entrepreneurial opportunities. Companies in addition to its existing business efficiency benefits in terms of economies of scale (economies of scale) and the synergy effects achieved (economies of scope). In game theory, there is a possibility through cooperative relationships to overcome the classic zero-sum game, if both actors involved benefit from the cooperative action. This is called a positive sum game.


Young technology companies often enter into collaborations with competitors because they are mostly still small and have little experience. In addition, they are scarce with resources and stable market relationships.

The development of industry in general also leads to access to cooperation. Product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter because the technology change is getting faster and faster. The processes for developing a product are very long and research-intensive and the costs for development and research also increase overall. In order to keep up with the constant and rapid change, competing companies enter into cooperations. However, competitors also cooperate with one another primarily because they have similarities in terms of resources and the market, making mutual learning relatively easy.

CoPS, so-called Complex Product Systems, describe complex products and systems that are extremely know-how and capital-intensive. The production of these goods represents high requirements due to the underlying highly developed technology bases and the components in the form of a hierarchically designed multi-component system. Even large global players are often unable to raise all the necessary financial, technological and organizational skills on their own and thus become such complex products are often realized in the context of inter-organizational relationships and industrial networks. These industries of complex products and systems serve as a promising area of ​​research to study cooperative behavior patterns in companies.


The forces of the competitors are bundled in cooperations and this can lead to greater innovative strength. This can result in new ideas and the general production efficiency can be increased. Cooperation with a competitor offers shared access to technologies, markets, resources and information. This in turn leads to the joint creation of skills, knowledge and technologies, which means that the cooperating companies can develop advantages over other competing companies. Co-opetitions can also accelerate the implementation of industrial standards and reduce project costs as well as project risks.


A deviation of one's own goals from the common goals makes cooperation dangerous, since incentives can creep in from both sides of the company to create advantages at the expense of the other company through the jointly higher resource allocation. One way of minimizing this risk is to draw up contractual regulations .

When cooperating with a competitor, a long-term common goal is first agreed in order to achieve a common benefit. However, an entrepreneur can behave opportunistically and deviate from this goal in order to maximize his own short-term benefit. This can lead to becoming dependent on the partner or a race to learn. As the competition increases, corporate collaborations become less common and fail more often.



Scientists cooperate in research, but are in competition when it comes to publishing their results or soliciting third-party funding .

Hoover dam

Competing construction companies joined forces on the Hoover dam because they could not provide the necessary security reserves for this huge construction project on their own.

Casting shows

In casting shows , the participants should prove their capabilities in order to achieve and win as much success as possible. The media staging of the competition asks the participants to compete with the other participants and to be the “best”, since in most cases there is only one winner. In casting shows, however, the teamwork skills of the participants are often shown to others. In the candidate e.g. For example, having to solve tasks in a team in the case of "Top Model", having to do photo shoots together or having to organize living together in the house, the ability to cooperate becomes a key element in this show.

The candidates in a casting show can thus cooperate at the same time but still be in competition, whereby the actual goal for each candidate is to win the competition. The simultaneous occurrence of cooperation and competition in casting shows can therefore be seen as an example of cooperation outside of purely economic relationships. The participation of the candidates in cooperative relationships can in this case be viewed as “collective fear management”.

Football clubs

When 2 soccer teams play against each other, their main goal is victory. These two teams have to organize a game together, which they then market or make available to viewers. So a soccer game is a co-product of two teams. The cooperative character of football clubs is particularly noticeable in championship races in leagues. The competitive nature of this lies in points, placements, relegation and the championship fight. All clubs in the league provide joint games in a cooperative manner and contribute to the fulfillment of the league's goal.

Here, too, it is noticeable that football clubs, which initially appear to be purely competitive, provide joint services. In order to provide its core service, a soccer club depends on working with competing clubs.


In a company, internal knowledge is an essential component for lasting competitive advantages. When the company is decentralized, there can be a tendency towards loss of knowledge. The reason is that the employees, i.e. the carriers of knowledge, in the company cooperate on the one hand, i.e. exchange knowledge, but on the other hand also compete with one another. Cooperative behavior patterns can also be recognized between employees.

State of research

The research community, and especially the representatives of strategic management and industrial marketing, have seen the phenomenon of cooperation for a number of years as a relevance for a well-founded scientific discussion. The current state of research, however, shows theoretical ambiguities and so there are few publications that specifically deal with the clarification of the extent to which "the companies involved actually behave in the said tension between cooperation and competition".

See also


  • Ricarda B. Bouncken et al .: Coopetition: a systematic review, synthesis, and future research directions. in Review of Managerial Science, Springer 2015
  • Barry J. Nalebuff, Adam M. Brandenburger: Coopetition: competing cooperatively - with game theory to business success. Rieck, Eschborn 2008, ISBN 3-924043-94-9 ; First edition of the engl. Original: Co-opetition , Currency Doubleday, New York 1996.
  • Stephan A. Jansen (Ed.): Competition and cooperation: interdisciplinary approaches to the theory of co-opetition . Metropolis-Verl., Marburg 2000. 254 pp. ISBN 3-89518-309-1

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A. Brandenburger, B. Nalebuff: Co-opetition . New York, 1996.
  2. Thomas Herzog: Strategic Management of Coopetition - An empirically founded theory of civil aviation . Ed .: Vienna University of Economics and Business. Vienna 2010, p. 8 .
  3. ^ Y. Luo: Coopetition in International Business. Copenhagen, 2004.
  4. ^ M. Dowling et al .: Multifaceted Relationships Under Coopetition. Description and Theory. In: Journal of Management Inquiry , Vol. 5, No. 2, 1996, p. 157.
  5. M. Bengtsson / S. Kock: Tension in Co-opetition . Paper presented at the Academy of Marketing Science Annual Conference, Washington, 28. – 31. May 2003.
  6. ^ G. Padula / G. Dagnino: Untangling the Rise of Coopetition. The Intrusion of Coopetition in a Cooperative Game Structure. In: International Studies of Management and Organization, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2007, p. 35.
  7. a b c Klein, B .: Coopetitive Dynamics: On the development of cooperative relationships between competitors . Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden 2014, p. 49-84 .
  8. a b c Berit Egge, Dirk Müller: Cooperations between young technology companies and competitors . Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden, p. 92 .
  9. Berit Egge, Dirk Müller: Cooperations between young technology companies and competitors . Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2014, p. 96 .
  10. ^ A b Thomas Herzog: Strategic Management of Coopetition - An empirically founded theory of civil aviation . Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna 2010, p. 3 .
  11. ^ A b Sascha G. Walter, Dirk Müller, Achim Walter: Dysfunctions in R&D cooperations: preventive measures and successful cooperation . In: Schmalenbach's journal for business research . tape 62 . Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2010, p. 135 .
  12. Berit Egge, Dirk Müller: Cooperations between young technology companies and competitors . Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2014, p. 93 .
  13. a b Joachim Tries: Conflict and negotiation management - using conflicts constructively . Springer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-34039-3 , p. 113 .
  14. a b Miriam Stehling: Casting shows as transcultural places of social negotiation processes . In: The appropriation of television formats in a transcultural comparison . Gabler, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-8349-1010-3 , pp. 46 f .
  15. a b Michael Schilhaneck: Goal-oriented management of football companies - concepts and justifications for successful brand and customer loyalty management . Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2015, p. 79 .
  16. Katja Zboralski: Knowledge Management through Communities of Practice - An empirical study of knowledge networks . GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2007, p. 4 .