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Co-opetitive Virtual Teams - An Introduction

Global economy demanded experts to solve the dilemma of distributed teams productivity over the past several years and there are still many researches going on regarding workflow and productivity of such teams. Technology evolved and resolved many problems of distributed teams. Virtual teams enhanced productivity by applying new technologies and companies invested fortunes on infrastructure. However, the global economy demands more solutions for an even more complex problem, I would like to call it Co-opetitive Virtual Teams. 

In today's open society and competitive business environment, competitors realized that creating coalition serves them the best in winning businesses. Such coalition happens between companies in different geographical locations and mostly in service industries. They are at different offices in one city or country, sometimes they are in different countries, sometimes they are in different continent and often it is a hybrid of all above!

While these companies serve a client and try to stay as cooperative as possible, they also compete in getting new businesses (new client) and try to win over each other by all means. It sometimes get more complicated when they compete in getting more business from the same client that they agreed to create the coalition at the first place, and all is legitimate!

The concept of co-opeition is fairly new to business world. Some may argue that the basic concept started from Theory of Games of Economic Behavior in 40s or 50s. But it did not get into main stream business vocabulary until 1997, when Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff published their best selling book. In their book, they describe co-opetition as follow:
CO-OPETITION is a new way of thinking about business. Some people see business entirely as competition. They think doing business is waging war and assume they can't win unless somebody else loses. Other people see business entirely as co-operation-teams and partnerships. But business is both co-operation and competition. It's CO-OPETITION. That's why we've chosen CO-OPETITION as our title, a word coined by Ray Noorda, founder of the networking software company Novell: "You have to compete and cooperate at the same time."
That is true, you need to compete and cooperate at the same time, But when it comes to a global economy with virtual teams distributed all around, then competition and cooperation gets little bit more tricky! Imagine seven competing companies distributed in 5 different countries in three different time zones serve the same client(s) and share their resources with each other in one pool. The main question here is , how several companies who are direct competitors and have almost the same skill-set can cooperate effectively and with high productivity globally?

The answer is more moral related than a technology or processes solution. They simply need to take risk and trust and try to not make problems for each other, And they all MAY need to practice disciplined Buddhism or Zen to control their fear and greed!

At the end, I think this is a new trend that researchers need to work on these days. there are many examples out there and businesses are eager to have some solutions for such mess!


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