Accelerating Innovation Through Coopetition: The Innovation Learning Network Experience

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Abstract

Coopetition, the simultaneous pursuit of cooperation and competition, is a growing force in the innovation landscape. For some organizations, the primary mode of innovation continues to be deeply secretive and highly competitive, but for others, a new style of shared challenges, shared purpose, and shared development has become a superior, more efficient way of working to accelerate innovation capabilities and capacity. Over the last 2 decades, the literature base devoted to coopetition has gradually expanded. However, the field is still in its infancy. The majority of coopetition research is qualitative, primarily consisting of case studies. Few studies have addressed the nonprofit sector or service industries such as health care. The authors believe that this article may offer a unique perspective on coopetition in the context of a US-based national health care learning alliance designed to accelerate innovation, the Innovation Learning Network or ILN. The mission of the ILN is to “Share the joy and pain of innovation,” accelerating innovation by sharing solutions, teaching techniques, and cultivating friendships. These 3 pillars (sharing, teaching, and cultivating) form the foundation for coopetition within the ILN. Through the lens of coopetition, we examine the experience of the ILN over the last 10 years and provide case examples that illustrate the benefits and challenges of coopetition in accelerating innovation in health care.

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