Assessment Tool: How to Collaborate with Your Competitor

Assessment Tool: How to Collaborate with Your Competitor

Collaborations can be tense and complex. This tool responds to the question: How can managers improve competitor collaboration to advance sustainability.
NBS September 1, 2016

Collaborations can be tense and complex.

Assessment Tool
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Based on interviews and an extensive review of research, this tool responds to the question: How can managers improve competitor collaboration to advance sustainability? 

Preparing for Collaboration

If your company is currently collaborating with competitors to advance sustainability, this tool will help you think about how to take that collaboration to the next level and achieve better results. 

If you’re in the planning stages, this tool can help you reflect on where you want to land and how to get there. 

Regardless of what stage your collaboration is in, the tool will help you better understand the practices and structure of your collaboration and provide tips and best practices to adapt your collaboration to better
meet your goals. 

Dealing with Inevitable Tensions

Tension is inevitable when collaborating with competitors. Firms accustomed to competing are suddenly working together.

Our research has identified two core tensions. These tensions can undermine an initiative’s success or, if managed well, can support the collaboration’s desired outcomes. This tool will help you manage these tensions. 


Cooperation-competition relates to a firm’s decision about issues such as how much knowledge to share, how much ownership to take, and whether to implement decisions made in the collaboration within individual firms.


Informal-formal structure relates to whether the collaboration uses informal approaches to establish trust and complete tasks, or has a more formal structure (e.g. written agreements and monitoring).

“We meet face-to-face, but like everybody else, to try to have less travel, we tried to do webinars and three people showed up instead of 15... We get huge value from the face-to-face because we get to interact with our peers.”

– Bob Larocque, Senior Director, Environment and Labour Market Policies, Forest Products Association of Canada (excerpt from assessment tool)
You can also check out the project description for this research.
Systematic Review

This guide enables managers to make the case for a competitor collaboration to colleagues or leaders, and determine satisfaction with current projects.

Reports and Articles

A team of rivals is making the denim industry more sustainable. NBS research guides the collaboration.

Garima Sharma
News and Events

NBS invites you to our upcoming breakfast forum and workshop, Collaborating with the Competition, taking place on September 9, 2016 in Toronto.