Roy Pierre, Pellegrin-boucher Estelle
Selling coopetition in markets with calls for tenders: The case of architecture companies

This paper explores the concept of coopetition (Brandenburger & Nalebuff, 1996; Bengtsson & Kock 1999; Gnyawali & Park 2009; Padula & Dagnino, 2007; Le Roy & Fernandez, 2015) and especially the specific issues related to coopetition located in the downstream activities of the value chain. Indeed, most researches about coopetition are focused on the upstream activities such as research & development and issues associated with innovation. Recently, some researchers have insisted on the fact that coopetition should also be explored through the commercial and marketing lenses (Peng & Bourne, 2009; Kylänen & Mariani, 2014; Chiambaretto & Dumez, 2016; Pellegrin-Boucher et al, 2017). Therefore, our paper intends to discuss the emerging concept of selling coopetition and more specifically its motivations, forms and issues for companies. In particular, our research is exploring this concept of selling coopetition in the context of markets ruled by calls for tenders. No research has been conducted about coopetition is these kind of markets and we believe that they represent an opportunity to enlighten some specific patterns and to open new perspectives of research.

The empirical side of our research relies on a single and qualitative case study. We selected the French architecture industry (its “B to B” segment) as a fertile industry to explore selling coopetition in a market concerned by calls for tenders. The case study is based on primary data collected through 15 interviews conducted in Montpellier and Paris, as well as some secondary data. Our main contribution is the proposition of a theoretical model about selling coopetition in markets with calls for tenders. In this model, we distinguish three different forms of selling coopetition. The first one, named “a priori coopetition”, refers to the formal and informal relationships developed between competitors before the launch of a call for tenders. The main aim is to develop contacts for a potential coopetitive project. The second one, named “coopetitive answer”, refers to the strategy of developing a mutual proposal for a call for tenders in order to reinforce the chance to be selected by the client. Lastly, a third form of selling coopetition has been revealed in our research. “A posteriori coopetition” takes place after the project selection by the client and illustrates the ex-post coopetition between a winner and a loser of the same call for tenders. Both theoretical and managerial issues for each form are discussed in our paper.