FEATURE6 January 2021

Friend or foe?

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Cooperating with competitors can have benefits for businesses, but working with rivals can also have a harmful effect on performance. By Katie McQuater.

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Collaboration has become an increasingly prevalent watchword in business, with companies more attuned to the value of working with others.

But what happens when organisations work with, rather than against, their competitors? Whether for collective good or individual benefit, cooperation strategies can strengthen business – to a point.

Cooperating with others, either in times of crisis or calm, can allow organisations to tap into collective strength and harness joint resources.

James Crick, assistant professor in marketing at Loughborough University, has been studying the issue of cooperation with competitors – or ‘coopetition’ – for a few years. He says there is a clear opportunity in a joined-up approach, particularly for smaller, under-resourced organisations, helping them to access equipment, information or knowledge that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

“Although it may not lead to firms having a competitive advantage, it may be the difference between surviving and failing within the market, ” Crick says. “If firms are working hard to cope with all the shocks that ...