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Published: 2021-12-06

How can competitors collaborate for sustainability?

NEWS In a world where higher and higher demands are placed on sustainability, competing companies are forced to work together to achieve sustainability goals. What does this collaboration look like and what results are achieved? This is studied in a new dissertation from Umeå University.

Text: Elin Andersson

In his dissertation Understanding and Managing Coopetition for Sustainability: Process and Outcomes Siarhei Manzhynski, doctoral student at Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics (USBE), studies “coopetition for sustainability “– an inter-firm phenomenon where actors from the same industry simultaneously cooperate and compete with the intent to achieve environmental, economic, and social benefits.

– Even though in practice we see more and more examples of collaboration between competitors for supporting sustainability in different industries (e.g., in housing, construction, automotive industry), there is still a lack of knowledge about both the process and possible outcomes of such collaboration. For example, while it is obvious that collaboration between competitors as such is quite difficult to organize and manage because of numerous tensions, there is a need to develop effective mechanisms for regulating the process of collaboration, especially if the task is not only to make money but also to enhance environmental and social sustainability, says Siarhei Manzhynski.

The thesis shows that whilst coopetition for sustainability is a complex, tension-filled phenomenon, it has great potential to advance sustainability in both theory and practice.

– I contribute to business administration research by generating novel insights into the process and outcomes of coopetition for sustainability. This dissertation is one of the first attempts to investigate the phenomenon comprehensively, covering both processual nuances and outcomes and employing conceptual, quantitative, and qualitative approaches.

This thesis has important practical implications that can be used by managers who are involved in and responsible for coopetitive relationships.

– I systematically conceptualize and model outcomes of coopetition for sustainability that allow practitioners to fulfill a more comprehensive assessment of possible consequences of coopetitive relationships and thus make a more informed decision about the appropriateness of coopetition. My approach gives a possibility to present information about outcomes in a traditional business way, i.e., in numerical monetary units, which is not easy when it comes to environmental and social dimensions. This allows stakeholders to compare gains and losses for each firm as well as at the group level.

– Finally, by examining the cause–effect relationship between the intensity, balance, and outcomes in coopetition for sustainability, I provide important implications for managers who are involved in and responsible for coopetitive relationships. For example, the findings show that managers can affect coopetition for sustainability by regulating its intensity and balance between competing demands. For relatively weak coopetitive interactions, managers are encouraged to intensify the relationship, while for relatively strong coopetition, managers instead need to keep the status quo and not get involved in more and/or deeper interactions or even abate some interactions.

Read the thesis: Understanding and Managing Coopetition for Sustainability: Process and Outcomes

About the defense

On Friday December 10, Siarhei Manzhynski, Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, is publicly defending his doctoral thesis with the title: Understanding and Managing Coopetition for Sustainability: Process and Outcomes

Faculty Opponent: Wendy Smith, Professor of Management, Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics, the University of Delaware, USA

The defense will take place at 11:00 in UB.A.210 - Lindellhallen 1 (S Lecture Hall A). Welcome to participate via Zoom: https://umu.zoom.us/j/68424978516 

Contact information

Siarhei Manzhynski
Associate professor
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