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The dark side of coopetition: when collaborating with competitors is harmful for company performance

James M. Crick (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 4 October 2019

Issue publication date: 22 January 2020




Coopetition is the interplay between cooperation and competition, involving organisations sharing resources and capabilities with rival entities. Earlier work has suggested that coopetition has a linear (positive) relationship with company performance, with scarce considerations towards whether this link could have a diminishing-returns effect. Thus, this paper aims to examine the non-linear (quadratic) relationships between coopetition and three performance outcomes. Using resource-based theory and the relational view, this study is designed to evaluate the dark side of coopetition, in terms of identifying situations when such activities can be harmful for company performance.


Survey data were collected from a sample of 101 vineyards and wineries in New Zealand. After purifying the measures through a series of multivariate statistical techniques, the research hypotheses and control paths were tested through hierarchical regression. Furthermore, the statistical data passed all major assessments of reliability and validity (including common method variance).


Coopetition was found to have non-linear (quadratic) relationships with customer satisfaction performance, market performance, and financial performance. These results indicate that while coopetition provides organisations with new resources, capabilities and opportunities, there are some dark sides of coopetition activities. With “too little” coopetition, firms might struggle to survive within their markets, with an insufficient volume of resources and capabilities. With “too much” coopetition, companies could experience increased tensions, potentially lose intellectual property and dilute their competitive advantages. Such negative outcomes could harm their performance in several capacities.

Practical implications

Firms should appreciate that coopetition is a competitive strategy. In other words, regardless of how much collaboration occurs, coopetition partners are still competing entities. It is recommended that organisations should strive to engage in an “optimal-level” of coopetition, as “too little” or “too much” of such strategies can be harmful for various types of company performance. To mitigate some of the dark sides of coopetition, businesses should attempt to use all the benefits of collaborating with competitors (i.e. accessing new resources, capabilities and opportunities), but at the same time, not become dependent on rivals’ assets.


This paper develops and tests a framework examining the non-linear (quadratic) linkages between coopetition and multiple assessments of company performance. It highlights the benefits and drawbacks of businesses sharing resources and capabilities with their competitors. Contrary to prior studies in the business-to-business marketing literature, the results signify that firms need to engage in an “optimal-level” of coopetition to minimise certain dark sides, such as reduced company performance. After providing some practitioner implications, this paper ends with a series of limitations and avenues for future research.



M. Crick, J. (2020), "The dark side of coopetition: when collaborating with competitors is harmful for company performance", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 318-337.



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