Cooperation In Fragmentation: Factors Influencing the Willingness of Firms to Cooperate in Fragmented Industries

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: In any given industry, fragmentation, namely the state of a disintegrated landscape of market participants’ offerings, can have detrimental effects on firms and customers in the likes of inefficiencies or inconvenient offerings, respectively. Despite recent first steps towards consolidation of offerings through, for example, platform ecosystems, the German mobility industry is still largely fragmented. With its diverse participants ranging from state-controlled public transport organizations to profit-driven private-sector mobility firms, cooperation in the German mobility industry requires inherently different firms to come together, aiming to ensure more sustainable or successful business practices. Despite the increasing relevance of these developments, literature is missing alternative perspectives on how fragmentation impacts the willingness of firms to cooperate, or more specifically, what factors effectively drive firms in more fragmented industries to cooperate. To fill this research gap, the German mobility industry was analyzed and factors influencing organizations’ willingness to cooperate were explored. First, an in-depth literature review was undertaken, providing seventeen broadly applicable factors to be influencing a firm’s willingness to cooperate. These general factors found in academia were then utilized to create a preliminary empirical framework. Through qualitative, abductive research, a single-case study of the German mobility industry incorporating semistructured expert interviews was conducted. The obtained empirical insights from these interviews were operationalized and the newly discovered influencing factors were utilized to revise the framework. The final framework enables academics to holistically explore influential aspects relevant in the context of cooperation in highly fragmented industries. Further, the obtained results have real-world relevance, providing valuable insights for firms seeking to maneuver more fragmented markets and develop impactful cooperative strategies. Ultimately, this thesis proposes twenty-three factors to be influencing the willingness of firms in rather fragmented industries to cooperate with one another. Whilst all factors received some support through the primary data, especially the factors ‘Pooling of Resources and Risks’ and ‘Level of Trust’ were found to be strongly influential. From the newly identified factors through primary research, amongst others, the ‘Creation of a Coherent Customer Experience’ and most importantly an overarching ‘Shared Mission’ were found to be influential. The findings suggest that cooperative behavior from firms in fragmented industries is largely dependent on a few fundamental factors, whereas the total number of influential aspects is immense.

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