Sustainability-driven co-opetition in supply chains as strategic capabilities: drivers, facilitators, and barriers

Vahid Mirzabeiki, Qile He*, David Sarpong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Co-opetition is gaining increasing attention as a potentially useful form of inter-organisational collaboration model to improve firms’ sustainable performance. However, limited previous studies have provided a clear substantive theory or offered empirical evidence for the process of sustainability-driven co-opetition. This paper explores how competing companies can collaborate in their supply chains (SCs) to achieve a higher level of sustainability performance by identifying drivers, facilitators and barriers of co-opetition. Based on two explorative case studies of co-opetition in the UK, the findings of this paper lead to a number of propositions and a theoretical framework for sustainability-driven co-opetition in SCs. This study contributes to the literature by providing a more in-depth understanding of co-opetition as a strategic capability for firms. This paper also proves the feasibility of a combined use of Resource-Based View and Network Theory perspectives in explaining a paradoxical inter-organisational relationship like co-opetition. A road map for sustainability-driven co-opetition in SCs is also provided as a heuristic decision model for practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Early online date27 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Co-opetition
  • inter-organisational collaboration
  • supply chain management
  • sustainability
  • triple-bottom-line


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