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Managing the complex relationship between cooperation and competition in the automotive industry – A comparison between German and Japanese supplier networks

16.10.2007 | 18:30

Miriam Wilhelm, Free University of Berlin

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In my research project I am taking a closer look at the parallel existence of two conflicting mechanisms – namely competition and cooperation (or “coopetition”) – as a general phenomenon in interorganizational relations and the way they are managed. From my point of view, this can best be studied in the automobile industry where system sourcing strategies call for a greater need to cooperate closely with suppliers and, at the same time, OEMs have to ensure the competitiveness of their suppliers. Especially Japanese OEMs are often described to be far ahead in managing cooperative partnerships as the term “Japanese style partnerships” implies. However, I would like to go beyond the literature of Japanese supplier relations and take a closer look at the competition in these networks and the way it is balanced with cooperation. Thus, I will present the results of over 30 qualitative interviews conducted with suppliers and OEMs in Germany and Japan. It can be stated that a clear distinction between a “Japanese” and a “German” way of supplier management does not exist anymore. Instead, it is more appropriate to take an individual firm’s approach and to pay more respect to the context in which the duality of cooperation and competition takes place. In order to do that, I will introduce a typology which covers four cases which differ in both the type of cooperation and competition.


Short CV: Miriam Wilhelm is a research associate at the Institute of Management, Free University of Berlin. Last year she has been a guest researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Tokyo. She is currently spending a second research stay in Japan supported by the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation.

Koordination: Florian Kohlbacher; Volker Elis

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Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Tel: 03 - 3222 5198, Fax: 03 - 3222 5420

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