where the phenomenon of ‘coopetition’ is being increasingly used not only to defend market share and profitability, but to grow it.
Increasing amounts of research are being undertaken into this area of business economics, led by Paul Hughes at Durham University and Dr. Jinqui Cai at Loughborough University, and they are developing approaches that allow organisations to consider whether and how their competitors can also be complementors. They have identified 4 key questions that must be understood before embarking on a coopetition project:
Most headteachers and governing bodies instinctively know who their competitors are within the independent sector, along with their strengths and weaknesses. They will already also likely have good links with them; the opportunity for independent schools lies in deepening those relationships and in understanding the imperative to do so.
The market drivers for coopetition in education are clear: A stagnating market for independent education, driven by the well resourced and improving quality of state provision (especially in London and the south), as well as increasing academic selectivity in the maintained sector and limited scope for fee increases. New educational marketplace entrants in the form of Academy chains, Grammar and Free schools represent an existential threat for some, and have the potential to cause significant pain for many.
So how can independent schools deepen collaborative relationships to quickly generate practical, tangible benefits?
In order to make coopetition work, the Durham and Loughborough research teams identified some key areas for organisations to consider:
This final point is one of the unique benefits of the Independent Schools Portal. Portal technology provides a means of direct communication and collaboration between individual schools, but more importantly, the Portal commercial team provides impartial coordination and project oversight for the benefit of all.
Independent Schools have secured returns from elements of coopetition over a long period of time and understand it's value. What the recent research and case studies have highlighted is that schools could derive significant additional benefits by revisiting their coopetition strategy as a development area, with a view to deepening and extending relationships with competitor schools for the benefit of all.
If you would like to discuss how coopetition might deliver benefits to your school, and how it might work in practice, please contact Karen Burns, Portal Commercial Director, in the first instance to arrange an informal discussion.