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Coopetition configuration and performance of international joint ventures for high-speed rail projects

Yanliang Niu (School of Management, Shijiazhuang Tiedao University, Shijiazhuang, China)
Huimin Li (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China)
Xiaowei Luo (Department of Architectural and Civil Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Xiaopeng Deng (School of Civil Engineering, Southeast University, Nanjing, China)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 16 February 2023




Members in the international joint ventures (IJVs) for high-speed rail (HSR) projects usually engage in coopetition interactions to create common benefits (CB) and simultaneously safeguard private benefits (PB). Previous studies of coopetition and performance using variance-based methods usually ignore the combinational influence of diverse coopetition constructs on performance, which can be effectively compensated by adopting a configuration perspective. Therefore, this research aims to ascertain various combinations of three coopetition constructs (coopetition relationship, coopetition capability and coopetition strategy) that lead to high IJVs’ performance through a configuration approach.


First, the research framework of coopetition configuration was established, and the key constructs were operationalized, which were validated by expert interviews. Then the information on 12 HSR IJVs was collected and quantified through nine rounds of interviews and a questionnaire survey. Later, the fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) was applied to explore what coopetition configurations benefit the CB or PB achievement.


Configuration results indicate that six coopetition configurations lead to CB outcome and seven configurations lead to PB outcome. Based on the results, coopetition contexts are divided into four categories: firm-based coopetition, project-based coopetition, firm-project-based coopetition and none-based coopetition. Then, a selection scheme for coopetition strategies in various contexts has been developed. The results also show that the core conditions mostly appear in the coopetition relationships and coopetition strategies dimensions, and the optimal coopetition strategies vary in different contexts.


This study enhances the theoretical understanding of coopetition in HSR IJVs and assists relative HSR industrialists, as well as the mega infrastructure project managers, in IJVs’ implementation. The configuration perspective of this paper also contributes to a systemic and holistic view of coopetition in HSR IJVs.



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 72071133, 71771052, 72171048; the Research Project on Humanities and Social Sciences of Hebei Higher Education Institutions (Top Young Scholar Project) under Grant No. BJ2019079 and the Scientific Research Planning Project of China State Railway Group under Grant No. 2020F026.


Niu, Y., Li, H., Luo, X. and Deng, X. (2023), "Coopetition configuration and performance of international joint ventures for high-speed rail projects", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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