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Trust-building mechanisms in a coopetition relationship: a case study design

Diana von Borell de Araujo (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)
Mário Franco (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal and CEFAGE-UBI Research Center, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




From social network theory, this study aims to understand how trust is built in a coopetition relationship.


A case study of a qualitative nature was carried out using several semi-structured interviews with managers of two Brazilian firms involved in a dyadic coopetition relationship.


Based on the empirical evidence, five categories/themes resulted for understanding trust-building mechanisms: mutual dependence, previous experience and reputation, awareness of the risks of opportunistic behaviour, contractual agreement and dynamic process. The juridical sphere, contractual agreement, was the only one identified in the study where firm representatives presented discordant positions, referring specifically to contractual relations of the terms of the agreement.

Practical implications

The results of this study provide some suggestions for managers. First, before beginning interaction in a coopetition relationship, it is necessary to assess whether the coopetition relation meets the required conditions for interaction to take place. Second, the results suggest that firms should make provision against members of both organizations making the relationship vulnerable to acts of opportunism.


This case study is innovative because it reveals manifestations that could help to enhance knowledge of how organizations build trust in dyadic coopetition relationships.



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments that contributed to the development of this paper. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from FCT and FEDER/COMPETE through grant PEst-C/EGE/UI4007/2013.


de Araujo, D.v.B. and Franco, M. (2017), "Trust-building mechanisms in a coopetition relationship: a case study design", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 378-394.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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