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To manage the paradox of simultaneously collaborating and competing

Research project Competing companies are increasingly collaborating with each other and this project aims to investigate what consequences this has, and how the consequences are handled, at both the individual and management level in organizations.

That companies simultaneously cooperate and compete with each other, called coopetition, means that individuals at different levels within organizations encounter and have to deal with the paradox it means to act upon these two contradictory logics. Few studies have focused on individuals' experiences of coopetition and the tensions this may cause. In this project we study the paradoxical tensions, their consequences for the individual and the organization, and how they can be managed, as has been emphasized in previous research on coopetition.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2014-01-01 2016-12-31


This project is funded by FORTE (Swedish Research council for Health, Working Life and welfare), with a total of 2 730 000 SEK.

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics

Research area

Business administration

Project description

Competing companies cooperate to create added value and develop new innovations, markets, and standards while at the same time they can act opportunistically to gain greater benefits from the relationship than the competitor. Competition and cooperation are based on conflicting but interconnected logics of action, which gives rise to paradoxical tensions that are difficult to handle for both the individual and the organization. The tensions can occur and differ from each other at different levels and between different functions in organizations. Few studies have focused on individuals' experiences of coopetition and the tensions that it can give rise to. Empirical studies are lacking on how individuals cognitively and emotionally relate to the paradox and what positive and negative effects these tensions can have for the individual and the organization. Tensions between incompatible logics can give rise to stress that at a reasonable level increases individuals 'performance, but too much stress can be negative for individuals' work situation and work performance. The contradictory logics of action needs to be balanced so that the relationship and the benefits it provides can be maintained.

Latest update: 2022-02-02