Towards a Managerial Engineering of Coopetition The findings of the study of the management of GMOs in the French grain merchant industry

Mourad Hannachi, François-Christophe Coléno


Even if academics and practitioners identify coopetition as a winning strategy, a coopetition relationship appear to bedifficult to sustain. Coopetition is relied to be a paradoxical and unstable interfirm relationship related with tensions.Academic works begun to study the causes and nature of tension in coopetition relationship but little is known aboutthe way those tension is managed. The aim of this paper is to investigate, via in depth case studies, the managementtools used to manage coopetition at the inter-organizational level. Through multiples case studies in the sameindustry (the French grain merchants industry), we reveal the existence of differing management tools of thecoopetition relationships. Some tools found by our research (tacit conventions, mediation arenas, coopetitioninducers) seem particularly novel in the coopetition literature. The use of tacit convention and social pressureepitomize the embeddedness and the social construction of the coopetition relationship. It shows that inter-firmcoordination can exist in a direct and informal way, without being locked into a rigid structure and without collusion.Moreover, we found that an external party can induce the coopetition and bring rival firms to consider a coopetitiverelationship. This finding reveals that some tools can change inter-firms dynamics and rationalities giving rise tocoopetition. Those findings lead us to reveal the perspective of a managerial engineering of coopetition and tosuggest some embryonic basis to open the way for its development.

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Management and Organizational Studies  ISSN 2330-5495 (Print)  ISSN 2330-5509 (Online)

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