Since the early 1980s the increasing interdependence and interconnectedness among organizational entities have raised renewed interests toward interorganizational relationships in organization theory as well as business policy studies. More specifically, management scholars that are interested in cooperation have focused on several features of strategy within both strategic alliances and collectives of organizations. As much as the former ones are concerned, organizations have been depicted as actors relying on cooperative devices in order to achieve a superior competitive advantage (Contractor and Lorange 1988; Hakansson and Snehota 1995). As far as the latter ones are concerned, organizations have been portrayed as members of a collective, jointly mobilizing action and resources toward the achievement of shared goals (Astley and Fombrun 1983; Bresser 1988; Oliver 1990). The recent stream of literature on coopetition strategy has emphasized that in many cases organizations tend to both compete and cooperate simultaneously, thus generating an apparently new form of interorganizational dynamic named coopetition (Brandenburger and Nalebuff 1996; Brandenburger and Stuart 1996). So far coopetition has been mainly analyzed from a theoretical point of view (Gnyawali and Madhavan 2001; Lado et al. 1997). Nonetheless empirical research is still scant. Furthermore, scarce importance has been devoted to the processes of formation of coopetitive strategies, with researchers focusing on what organizations do in coopetitive settings rather than on how and why coopetition originates. Accordingly, what is lacking in management literature is a micro-level analysis of the decision-making processes leading to coopetition and their preconditions. By focusing on decisional processes as relevant units of analysis, research in competitive and, to a lesser extent, cooperative contexts, has provided several insights on the ways competitive and cooperative arrangements are generated (Mintzberg 1978). On the contrary, coopetition strategy literature has rarely benefited from a methodological shift of the inquiry’s unit of analysis to decisional processes nor taken advantage of a clear cut analysis of the role played by the environment in shaping coopetitive strategies. As a con-
sequence, the formation of coopetition strategy turns out to be an underresearched theme. More empirical studies on coopetitive interorganizational relationships are needed, especially if we consider that the emergent character of these interorganizational strategies “is often the first stage in a coopetitive strategy lifecycle” (Mariani 2007: 99). This chapter tries to bridge this gap in the coopetition literature by analyzing how cooperative and coopetitive strategies have emerged in two consortia of Australian and Italian opera companies over the last decade. Australia and Italy were selected for a number of reasons. First they display two very different cultural policy models (i.e. Italy has a centralized, ministry-supervised cultural policy system, while Australia is endowed with an arm’s length arts council) that generate the necessary variance in terms of institutional environment required for a correct application of a case-based methodology (Eisenhardt 1989). Second, because a preliminary study of the documents issued by cultural policymakers in a number of different countries had addressed the attention of the researcher to the importance of imposed cooperation for the Italian and Australian cultural policy-makers. Third and last, a privileged access to data was provided by both management and cultural policy-makers in the two aforementioned countries. The chapter consists of six sections. Section two reviews the literature on coopetition strategy and the distinction between deliberate and emergent strategies. The third section illustrates the research setting and describes the qualitative research methodology. The fourth and fifth sections present the main events and environmental changes that have contributed to shaping the decisions of respectively the Australian and Italian opera companies under consideration. The sixth and last section draws the main implications stemming from the analysis, and discusses the main limitations of the study.