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Managing technology transfer between coopetitive firms: the roles of coopetition, asset specificity and justice

Ruijia Liu (School of Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Jianjun Yang (School of Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Feng Zhang (School of Business Administration, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 7 September 2020

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




Prior studies have demonstrated the important role of coopetition in firms’ innovation. Based on the paradox perspective, this study aims to focus on technology transfer, the pre-innovation stage, to provide a supplementary understanding of the complementarity and contradictoriness of paradoxical coopetition, with the formal and informal governance mechanisms which are suitable with this understanding in coopetition.


This study conducted an original, multisource survey of 280 Chinese manufacturing firms. Hypotheses were tested through multiple regressions.


Coopetition has a positive impact on technology transfer between firms. Along with the increasing specificity of assets invested ex ante as a kind of formal governance mechanism, the relationship between coopetition and technology transfer becomes stronger. Meanwhile, inter-firm justice as an informal governance mechanism in the technology transfer process can be positively affected by coopetition between partners.


The study adds to the business-to-business coopetition literature on how to properly treat and use coopetition in technology transfer. Using the paradox perspective in the Chinese context, the findings emphasize the positive role of coopetition in the inter-firm technological exchange process, enriching the understanding of the complementary and contradictory features of paradoxical coopetition. To govern coopetitive relationships, the firms should also implement two fundamental governance mechanisms, that is, specialty asset and inter-firm justice.



The authors thank the review and editorial team for their encouragement, comments, and guidance in shaping this manuscript.

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71572139 and No. 71704056); Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (Grant No. 2019A1515011023); and the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities (Grant No. x2gsC2181500).


Liu, R., Yang, J. and Zhang, F. (2021), "Managing technology transfer between coopetitive firms: the roles of coopetition, asset specificity and justice", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 765-781.



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