The Paradox of Cooperation and Competition in Strategic Alliances
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
This paper discussed the paradox of cooperation (collaboration) and competition in strategic alliances. It proposed an explicit paradox approach to alliance strategy. Cooperation and competition are simultaneously present and their oppositional tendencies form duality. Dialectics embraces paradox by holding that an object or phenomenon is a unity of contradictory oppositional tendencies. Paradox can be made manifest through an interaction of the two opposites. Dialectics also explains that change stems from opposition and conflict. Hence, the strategic issue of alliance partners is not to choose between cooperation and competition, but to manage the tension between them. It is this contradictory duality of cooperation and competition and their interaction that form the complex business reality.
In the light of paradox, the paper advocated a multi-paradigm approach to study cooperative and competitive strategies. Multi-paradigms can reflect divergent perspectives and encompass the duality of cooperation and competition. Our approach combined strategic positioning, the RBV and game theory. Strategic positioning highlighted competitive strategy, and its framework was also used to explain cooperation with other firms or competitors as to enhance the strategic position. Cooperation could also enable the firm to reconfigure value chain activities and to achieve strategic fit. The RBV suggested that cooperation enables one party to gain access to the other's unique resources and capabilities, and thus to acquire competitive advantage. In addition, competence theory showed the interactive nature of cooperation and competition and the dynamic process. These two traditional perspectives can provide an overarching view of competitive and cooperative strategies, and insights into competition and cooperation in strategic alliances. All-out competition is not only the option. Cooperation can enhance competitive advantage. There is an uneasy balance of partner calculation. Cooperation and competition interact with each other and the tension underlies the difficulties involved in managing alliances.
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