‘Co-opetition’: Consort with the enemy

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Tough economic times are spurring some leaders to seek out surprising bedfellows—their competition.

The idea of “co-opetition” is hardly new. Airlines have long shared check-in, gate management and facilities. But lately, more leaders are latching on to the trend.

Other examples of “co-opetition”:

  • The New York Post and the Daily News may be archenemies, but behind the scenes their execs are talking about working together in areas such as distribution.
  • BMW, maker of the Mini, and Fiat, maker of rival MiTo, are considering joint production of components and systems for their cars.
  • A 10-year deal would have UPS carrying DHL’s packages by air in the United States for an annual fee. The deal injects UPS with needed cash and cuts DHL’s U.S. express-delivery business losses.

Thinking of crafting a deal with the competition? Be very clear about what is and isn’t covered. “You have to figure out exactly where you are cooperating and where you are competing, and not get your staff confused,” says Harold Sirkin of The Boston Consulting Group.

— Adapted from “Make love—and war,” The Economist.

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