Competitive vs coopetitive strategies: lessons from professional sport leagues

François Fulconis (University of Avignon, Avignon, France)
Jean Nollet (HEC Montréal, Montreal, Canada)
Gilles Paché (Aix-Marseille Université, Aix-en-Provence, France)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Publication date: 16 April 2018



Over the past decades, analyses of the functioning of professional sport leagues have been done from various angles: economic, financial and sociological; in some cases, comparisons were made between North-American and European leagues. The purpose of this paper is to look at this reality from a different angle, i.e. human capital management, by showing how different the models from both continents are.


Based on an identification of the major elements associated to human capital management in professional sport leagues in North America and Europe, this paper compares competitive and coopetitive strategies using an original framework based on consortium sourcing and pooling dimensions.


The paper underlines the benefits that North-American professional sport leagues get from acquiring players using a consortium sourcing perspective (coopetition). In Europe, the most powerful clubs use their financial resources to get the best players; as a result, it is always the same clubs with get the best results (competition). In the long run, the European approach might result in less attractiveness to TV viewers, and less revenues for TV networks.


This paper helps to understand the differences between professional sport leagues in North America and Europe; it also discusses the risk associated to the adoption, without any adjustment in the human capital management, in Europe of the North-American model based on a coopetitive perspective. This dimension is seldom mentioned in articles dealing with professional sport leagues.



Fulconis, F., Nollet, J. and Paché, G. (2018), "Competitive vs coopetitive strategies: lessons from professional sport leagues", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 12-21.

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