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Locked-in resources, coopetitive relationship stability and innovation

Rida Elias (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Bassam Farah (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 21 October 2020

Issue publication date: 3 May 2021




This conceptual paper uses the resource-based theory (RBT) of the firm to argue that for competitors to improve their innovation through a cooperative relationship – coopetitive relationship – they need to work on building a stable relationship with each other by investing a special type of resources, namely locked-in resources.


The authors draw on RBT criteria to argue that when the antecedent – the locked-in resources – and the mediator – the relationship stability – are valuable, rare, inimitable and organized (VRIO), they will help the parties involved achieve sustained competitive advantage from the coopetitive relationship.


This paper argues that locked-in resources lead to higher coopetitive relationship stability by reducing the impact of opportunistic behavior from any of the partners. More stable relationship leads to more innovations especially radical innovations. In addition, the nature of the industry plays a moderating role. The industry's competitive intensity affects the relationship between locked-in resources and relationship stability. The industry's age affects the relationship between stability and innovation quantity and type.

Research limitations/implications

This conceptual paper anchors its arguments within the RBT related to the firm's strategic resources (VRIO) characteristics and applies the same arguments (VRIO) beyond the firm level to the coopetitive relationship level. The model invites researchers and practitioners to consider two new constructs namely locked-in resources and coopetitive relationship stability in order to build successful coopetitive relationships.

Practical implications

This paper contributes considerably and in a practical manner to managers as it draws their attention to the importance of investing a special type of resources, namely locked-in resources and ensuring the relationship stability with their coopetitors to achieve the desired outcome. It also draws the managers' attention to the impact industry's competitive intensity and industry's age have on the quality of the relationship and on the innovation outcomes.


A distinct contribution of this conceptual paper is the introduction of two new constructs: locked-in resources and coopetitive relationship stability. Locked-in resources are valuable within the coopetitive relationship and they improve the second construct or relationship stability. Relationship stability is different from relationship strength as it leads to more trust between partners over longer periods of time.



The first author acknowledges the support provided by the American University of Beirut (AUB) University Research Board (URB) grant [grant number 24640, for academic year 2018-2019]. The authors would like to especially thank JSMA Editor Prof. Nicholas O'Regan and three anonymous reviewers for an insightful and constructive review process.


Elias, R. and Farah, B. (2021), "Locked-in resources, coopetitive relationship stability and innovation", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 150-169.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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