Handling Competitive Relationships in Multi-Company, Cross-Sector Partnerships

An Example from the Logistics Industry

Past event — 8 January 2014

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg

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Lea Stadtler


Geneva PPP Research Center, University of Geneva


Scholars suggest that partners may circumvent the tensions underlying coopetition by avoiding competitive similarity between the collaborating firms, by dividing the competitive and collaborative parts between different departments, and by limiting the partners’ collaboration to customer-distant and less knowledge-intensive activities. But what if a (social) cause requires competitors to work together intensively in a setting that does not allow for these limitations? Based on an in-depth case study of a pioneering cross-sector partnership that involves four global logistics companies, we investigate how competitors handle the paradoxical nature of coopetition. Our findings show the need for a multi-level approach and a combination of different paradox strategies. Specifically, the partners combined structural and temporal solutions at the partnership and organizational levels to narrow the area in which tensions might arise and advocated cognitive frames that helped cope with tensions at the individual level. Building on the paradox literature, we elucidate implications for the successful management of coopetition.

About the presenter

Lea Stadtler (PhD) is currently research fellow at the Geneva PPP Research Center, University of Geneva. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of corporate social responsibility, organization theory, and cross-sector collaboration. 
From 2008 to 2012, Lea has been working as teaching and research assistant at the Chair of Organization & Management of Prof. Gilbert Probst at the University of Geneva. She has been in charge of teaching seminars to undergraduate and MBA students on Change Management and Cross-Sector Partnerships. 
In her PhD thesis, she analyzed design challenges in public-private partnerships for development from the perspectives of interest alignment, governance, organizational boundaries, and broker roles. Lea’s dissertation received the SIM Best Dissertation Award 2013 (Social Issue Management division of the Academy of Management) and the SNIS Award 2013 for the Best PhD Thesis in International Studies (Swiss Network for International Studies). Related papers have been published in the European Management Journal, M@n@gement, and the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.
Since 2010, Lea has been working on various case studies and other publications as visiting researcher at INSEAD, Fontainebleau. The case studies focus on topics such as cross-sector partnerships, donation campaigns, corporate social responsibility programs, and social entrepreneurship. The most recent case study, co-authored with Prof. Probst, has received the EFMD 2012 “Best of the Best Award.”

more info about Dr. Lea Stadtler

About the Seminar

The KLU research seminar series is a regular meeting of PhD students, Post-Docs and professors who conduct research in the field of logistics and supply chain management. The research seminar is open to the public and we happily welcome guests.