Innovation Through Co-opetition: A Qualitative Study Aiming to Explore Factors Promoting the Success of Co-opetition in Product and Service Innovation

Eszter Zsófia Hoffmann & Vivien Melanie Boche

Student thesis: Master thesis


The central topic of this master’s thesis is the simultaneous pursuit of competition and co-operation, coined into one term; “co-opetition”. This phenomenon has received increased attention by scholars and practitioners in the past two decades since it adapts to today’s fast-changing business environment and enables mutual benefits for rival companies. This paper addresses the lack of literature regarding the interplay between co-opetition and specific innovation types. A co-opetitive relationship can drive businesses towards new opportunities to achieve innovation outcomes that they cannot accomplish alone. The purpose of this thesis is to provide businesses and academics a better understanding of co-opetition, its challenges, and success causing determinants in a real business context related to innovation. Special attention is paid to the exploration of critical soft factors behind the successful outcome of co-opetition between rival firms innovating together, and a comparison of those factors between product- and service-oriented companies. Nine qualitative interviews with professionals from well-known companies were conducted to investigate their perception and experience in innovation through co-opetition. This data led to the identification of four themes: the process of innovation through co-opetition, the reasons for and challenges in co-opetition, and the well-working co-opetitive relationship. This study confirmed predicted critical success factors, Trust and Commitment, of well-working co-opetitive relationships. Furthermore, this thesis identified additional critical success factors including both common, namely Alignment and Openness, and differing determinants between product innovation, particularly Understanding, and service innovation, including Time and Size Balance. Lastly, findings revealed the tendency of companies to participate in ecosystems that enhance the emergence and pursuit of co-opetition.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages193
SupervisorsKarin Hoisl