A management dilemma : positioning employees for internal competition versus internal collaboration. Is coopetition possible?

31 May 2016

Managers are faced with the dilemma of either positioning their employees to compete against or to collaborate with each other within the organisation. Internal competition can motivate individuals and teams to strive to be the best and in so doing result in continuous incremental performance improvements. In contrast, internal collaboration can result in effective problem solving through knowledge sharing and innovation. This study investigated the key factors that drive the adoption of internal competition and internal collaboration, the consequences of implementing each approach, how levels of internal competition and internal collaboration vary at different management levels and whether a viable hybrid combination of both management approaches is possible. A qualitative exploratory study by in-depth interview was conducted with twenty senior executives. A hybrid model was developed from these research findings, which confirms that while the two management approaches have different outcomes there is an optimal way of combining them to allow managers to optimise the performance of their staff and the organisation.