Cooperating with competitors. An exploratory case study of cooperative relationships between competing firms in NCE Finance Innovation

Type/nr R16/21
Skrevet av Ida Jødahl and Vanessa Vance
The objective of this thesis is to examine the concept of coopetition by exploring how a neutral third party can manage coopetitive relationships. Because existing literature on how to manage coopetition is limited, we hope to contribute with further research and insight into this field. The empirical context for our study is the Norwegian fintech cluster “NCE Finance Innovation”. Clusters are defined as geographical concentrations of firms in a particular industry interconnected through a wide range of relationships. Clusters can therefore serve as a platform for developing and fostering multilateral coopetitive relationships providing an interesting context for studying coopetition. Our empirical findings are primarily based on nine semi-structured interviews with representatives from NCE Finance Innovation and member firms who have engaged in coopetitive relationships in the cluster either in the form of projects or working groups. Findings from our research reveal that the process of cooperating with competitors can be divided into three separate phases, where each phase involves different challenges and tensions that need to be managed in order to reap the potential benefits of coopetition. In an attempt to manage these challenges and tensions, we have identified seven important managerial mechanisms: motivating coopetitive relationships, identifying potential risks and challenges, building trust and creating a cooperative culture, ensuring progress, handling inter-firm conflicts, ensuring compliance with regulations and ensuring cooperation to the end. In exercising these mechanisms, we find that NCE Finance Innovation has a crucial role. NCE Finance Innovation operates as a buffer in the dynamic interplay between competition and cooperation, thus balancing the relationship between the rival firms. As such, we find that having a neutral third party like NCE Finance Innovation managing the coopetitive relationships is essential to ensure successful coopetition.
Språk Skrevet på engelsk