The strategic management field is currently facing a number of new and unexpected challenges which find their roots in the restless dynamics of environmental change and firms’ strategic action and thinking. As a result, we need to adapt and integrate existing theoretical lenses and conceptual categories or develop entirely new ones. In this second vein, we advance the study of coopetition as a new interpretive category in strategy. As known, mainstream economics and managerial research has been largely based on the dichotomy between competition and cooperation. This chapter addresses the following issue: how to overcome the above oversimplified conception of interfirm interdependence and develop a more comprehensive framework in which both aspects, the competitive and the cooperative, are simultaneously considered? In management literature the hybrid behavior comprising competition and cooperation has been named coopetition. Whereas a number of authors (Brandenburger and Nalebuff 1996; Lado et al. 1997; Gnyawali and Madhavan 2001) have emphasized the increasing importance of coopetition for today’s interfirm dynamics, scientific investigation on the issue of coopetition has not gone much farther beyond naming, claiming and evoking it (Walley 2007). Therefore, whilst, on one hand, we acknowledge the weaknesses of conventional approaches, on the other, we underline that coopetition is an underresearched theme which claims escalating attention. In light of its limited theoretical foundations, we take a required exploratory approach to the topic. The purpose of this chapter is threefold. First, with the aim of moving away from the mere recognition of the oversimplified conventional conception to a deeper and clear-cut understanding of the nature of coopetition, we start from the compared analysis of competition and cooperation in management and propose a first definition of coopetition. By suggesting that coopetition is a matter of “incomplete interest (and goal) congruence” concerning firms’ interdependence, we stress that coopetition does not simply emerge from coupling competition and cooperation issues, but rather it implies that cooperation and
competition merge together to form a new kind of strategic interdependence between firms, giving rise to a coopetitive system of value creation. Second, we advance a typology of coopetition based on the differing explanatory variables of this incomplete interest (and goal) congruence. Third and finally, by taking into account a number of coopetition microcases, especially referring to firms operating in the automobile industry, we clarify both the contribution and the potential of coopetition strategy to the advancement of strategic management, organization theory and managerial practice.