International arrangements require more formal mechanisms.
The concept of “co-opetition” — particularly collaboration with rivals involving jointly developing technologies — is inherently paradoxical. After all, as one 2007 working paper states, “Why would anyone voluntarily share with a competitor the very knowledge that could be the basis for future competitive advantage?” That paradox becomes even more acute when considering co-opetition with rivals from overseas, in which barriers of culture, trust and legal scriptures enhance the risks associated with sharing intellectual property rights.The way forward, say the paper’s authors, could be to adapt the methods used to protect proprietary knowledge. International teams, for example, have different knowledge-sharing requirements than domestic collaborations. “Firms dealing with international co-opetition partners rely on formal methods like patents,” say the authors, in contrast to informal methods like secrecy and long lead times.Anja Schmiele and Wolfgang Sofka, research fellows in the Department of Industrial Economics and International Management at the Centre for European Economic Research, known as ZEW, in Mannheim, Germany, use German government-funded data from the Mannheim Innovation Panel, a survey conducted by ZEW. From the responses on innovation activity in 2002–2004, the authors were able to study 956 German manufacturing companies and their innovation activities.A