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Publication date: 3 June 2019

Linlin Chai, Jin Li, Thomas Clauss and Chanchai Tangpong

The purpose of this study is to investigate the antecedents and the conditions of coopetition at the inter-organizational level.



The purpose of this study is to investigate the antecedents and the conditions of coopetition at the inter-organizational level.


This study is based on survey research methodology and analyzes the data from 138 companies regarding the antecedents and the conditions of their coopetition.


The results indicate that the interdependence between partners (i.e. the antecedent) positively affects interfirm coopetition, and that this relationship is contingent on the joint occurrence of opportunism (a behavioral condition) and technology uncertainty (a contextual condition). Specifically, highly interdependent firms are more likely to be involved in a coopetitive relationship when both opportunism and technology uncertainty are high. Interestingly, the authors’ data also show that opportunism or technology uncertainty alone may not be adequate in moderating the interdependence–coopetition relationship.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the current literature in two meaningful ways. First, it empirically examines interdependence as a potential antecedent of interfirm coopetition. Second, it improves our understanding of the behavioral and contextual conditions that facilitate the formation of coopetitive relationships by examining the moderating roles of opportunisms and technology uncertainty in the relationship between interdependence and interfirm coopetition. The limitations of this study lie in its confined method of cross-sectional survey from the focal firm’s perspective. Future research may advance beyond this study through experimental and/or longitudinal research designs.

Practical implications

This study provides managers with two important practical insights in coopetition management. First, the findings suggest a two-step approach to help a firm assess and manage the level of coopetition in its relationship with a business partner. In addition, the findings provide a counterintuitive suggestion to managers that the joint conditions of high opportunism and high technology uncertainty indeed prime the relationship for the rise of coopetition, provided that managerial efforts are made to somewhat increase the level of interdependence in the relationship.


Despite the growing number of studies on coopetition, research still lacks knowledge about the antecedents and the conditions of inter-organizational coopetition, and this study aims to fill this gap.


Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624


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