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Sleeping with competitors: Forms, antecedents and outcomes of coopetition of small and medium-sized craft beer breweries

Sascha Kraus (ECSE International Business School, École Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur, Paris, France)
Patrycja Klimas (Department of Management Theory, University of Economics in Katowice , Katowice, Poland)
Johanna Gast (Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France)
Tobias Stephan ( University of Liechtenstein , Vaduz, Liechtenstein)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 15 March 2018

Issue publication date: 4 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is to highlight the specific types of coopetition between small and medium-sized craft breweries and related businesses, as well as its drivers and outcomes.


Qualitative research was carried out using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 18 different small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) combined with site visits and secondary data analysis.


The results reveal that craft breweries are engaging in coopetition in several different ways. Mutual benefit, trust, commitment, and sympathy are the crucial drivers for coopetition; whereas innovation development, market reach and marketing, as well as firm growth represent the key shared outcomes of coopetition.

Research limitations/implications

This study suffers from two main limitations, including the focus on coopetition of craft breweries operating in German-speaking countries only and the risk of subjectivity in analysis and interpretation due to the qualitative, explorative nature of the research.


The findings reveal insights into the uniqueness of SMEs – specifically craft brewers – regarding coopetition, which is currently of strong cooperative nature. This study completes prior coopetition knowledge by revealing the importance of coopetition for small, micro and resource-constrained firms operating in dynamic and innovative but traditional (here craft) industries; presenting the cooperation-based type of coopetition as a good competition strategy under fierce competition from large, more established and global business rivals; and identifying sympathy as an important coopetition driver.



Kraus, S., Klimas, P., Gast, J. and Stephan, T. (2019), "Sleeping with competitors: Forms, antecedents and outcomes of coopetition of small and medium-sized craft beer breweries", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 50-66.



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