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Paper info: Conflict management in intercompetitive cooperation

Title


Conflict management in intercompetitive cooperation

Authors


Annika Tidström
Hanken School of Economics
Finland
Annika Tidström and
Åsa Hagberg-Andersson
Hanken School of Economics
Finland
Åsa Hagberg-Andersson

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.

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Abstract


A majority of the existing research within the business network approach is focused on cooperation and relationships between buyers and sellers. Competition and cooperation between competitors have not been studies to the same extent, although business markets consist of different types of interorganizational cooperation and competition. There is an inbound tension in cooperative arrangements between competitors. This may lead to conflicts in the cooperation. Therefore conflict management is an important issue in these kinds of business relationships. Conflicts are also scarcely researched within the business network approach and the combination of cooperation between competitors and conflicts is therefore novel.The purpose of the study is to increase our understanding about conflict management in cooperation between competitors. The focus lies on exploring conflict management from a business network setting. The empirical part of the paper is based on three case studies of groups of cooperating competitors from different industries in Finland. The findings of the study show that several conflicts in intercompetitor cooperation have to do with the risk of loosing business to competitors. One solution for managing these kinds of conflicts is to use formal contracts or other formal strategies. According to the findings of the study influence from third parties is important when it comes to conflict management. Several conflicts result in a win-win outcome, with positive implications for all actors involved. The findings moreover indicate that the roles played by the actors are essential when it comes to conflict management in intercompetitor cooperation. The contribution of the paper is twofold. From an academic perspective the findings of the study contributes to two areas that are scarcely researched within the business network approach: intercompetitor cooperation and conflict. From a managerial perspective the findings of the study show different opportunities for managing conflict when cooperating with competitors.