Operational Collaboration Between Rivals: Strategic and Welfare Implications
Posted: 1 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 5, 2020
Business rivals often collaborate on specific aspects of their operations. The collaboration can benefit firms operationally, but may also intensify competition. To better understand and manage this interaction, this paper studies the strategic and welfare implications of a cost-reducing operational collaboration between competing firms. We formulate a duopoly competition model to capture important aspects of the problem, which includes the possible use of facilitating agreements and randomness in cost reduction. Our analysis starts with operational collaboration without any additional agreement beyond the collaborative effort in deterministic cost reduction. While the high-cost firm always benefits from it, the low-cost firm needs to consider the products substitutability and the firms' asymmetry in cost. Moreover, such a pure operational collaboration never hurts consumer surplus. We then consider the effect of centrally decided facilitating agreements. Specifically, with a properly designed unit transfer payment, the competition may be softened so that both firms are willing to collaborate. However, consumer surplus may decrease as a consequence. We further discuss the situation in which the facilitating agreement results from a negotiation process. Finally, we examine the impact of the randomness in cost reduction. We find that, for risk-neutral firms, the uncertainty in the potential cost savings may either increase or decrease the likelihood of collaboration; and the stochastic orders between the two firms' cost reduction may have non-intuitive implications on their willingness to collaborate. Our findings provide useful managerial insights into the underlying drivers of an operational collaboration between rivals.
Keywords: duopoly competition, operational collaboration, transfer payment, consumer surplus
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation