Coopetition and Knowledge Transfer Dynamics: New Zealand’s Regional Tourism Organisations and the 2011 Rugby World Cup
To ensure the success of Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) in New Zealand regional tourism organisations were expected to collaborate with each other as part of developing a nationwide approach to the event, whilst simultaneously competing with each other for visitor nights and spending. Simultaneous cooperation and competition is known as coopetition. Relatively little is known about the impact of coopetition on knowledge transfer dynamics. The study analyses how coopetition between regional tourism organisations (RTOs) impacted their knowledge transfer dynamics in the context of RWC 2011. The study utilised an exploratory, comparative, qualitative, case study approach. Twenty-one semi-structured interviews with CEOs and senior managers from RTOs were conducted both pre-event and post-event. A formal survey and a documentation review provided complementary data. The findings indicate that the level of collaboration among RTOs fell short of the collaborative approach advocated by government and event organisers. It was also evident that a continuum of competition and collaboration (i.e. coopetition) was present in the RTO network for RWC 2011. This continuum mirrored normal everyday RTO behaviour with its focus on regional issues. Overall, the knowledge acquisition and transfer processes among the RTOs were negatively affected in two ways: (1) the limited RTO collaboration did not facilitate an effective knowledge transfer process; and (2) RTO competition constrained knowledge sharing. These factors restricted the flow of potentially useful knowledge and information around mega-events. The structure and set-up of RWC 2011 — especially the regional bidding process to host teams and matches — was crucial. This bidding process impeded inter-regional collaboration and knowledge transfer whilst simultaneously facilitating competition among the RTOs. The study concludes that coopetition can negatively affect the sharing and transfer of knowledge in a destination marketing and mega-events environment. The research addresses the call for further research in this field and enhances understanding of how to better leverage mega-events in the future.