Coopetition: Shaping up your strategy


This exercise is a simplified version of the Global Alliance Game. That is, there are resource complementarities created among teams. However, this one emphasizes (to a greater extent) that the teams are in direct competition to complete the same tasks. As such, it is a nice exercise to explore coopetition and alliances with competitors. Introduce the exercise as an experience with the use of resources needed to accomplish a task that have been distributed unequally. Form the groups. Groups should be placed far enough away from each other so that their negotiation positions are not compromised by casual observation. Distribute an envelope of materials and a copy of the accompanying task sheet to each group. Explain that each group has different materials, but must complete the same tasks. Explain that groups may negotiate for the use of materials and tools with other teams. The first group to finish all the tasks is the winner. Give the signal to begin. When the groups have finished, declare the winner. Then conduct a discussion on using resources, sharing, negotiating, competing and using power.

Group Materials (Groups may negotiate with each other for the use of needed materials and tools on any mutually agreeable basis):

  • Group #1- scissors, ruler, paper clips, pencils, two 4-inch squares of red paper and two 4-inch squares of white paper
  • Group #2- Scissors, glue, two sheets each of gold paper, white paper and blue paper, each 8×11 inches
  • Group #3- felt-tipped markers and two sheets each of green paper, white paper and gold paper, each 8×11 inches
  • Group #4- five sheets of paper (8×11 inches)-one green, one gold, one blue, one red and one purple

Each group is to complete the following tasks:

  1. Make a 3 x 3-inch square of white paper
  2. Make a 4 x 2-inch rectangle of gold paper
  3. Make a 3 x 5-inch T-shaped piece of green and white paper
  4. Make a four-link paper chain, each link in a different color
  5. Make a 4 x 4 flag in any three colors

Debriefing questions

  1. One might use the “Four C” alliance framework to guide the debrief. What complementarities were evident? Were goals congruent? Were the organizations compatible? How did the balance change over time?
  2. How did it feel depending on others in the midst of a competition to get the given task finished?
  3. Did you notice the use of power that manifested itself during this exercise? If so, give examples.
  4. What frustrated you the most during this activity and why?
  5. How does this activity apply to other times when you have tried to complete a task and needed to bargain?

Contributed by Russ Coff

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