What is it about?

When humanitarian organisations respond to disasters, they simultaneously compete (for funding, media attention etc.) and cooperate to achieve the overall goal of helping affected people. To cooperate, they need to very quickly build trusting relationships. We find that swift trust and swift distrust exist simultaneously and both facilitate simultaneous competition and cooperation.

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Why is it important?

Distrust, not just trust is important in simultaneous cooperation and competition. In focusing on a competitive environment in which cooperation is essential, we find limited choice of coopetitive partners. Humanitarian relief organisations must often simply work with whichever other organisations are available. We highlight how trust and distrust are not opposite ends of a spectrum and detail how both contribute to coopetitive relationships.


Working together is important in many contexts. There can be a tendency to focus on trust in working together. However, we show that distrust is really important in managing uncertainty and enabling a quick response in challenging circumstances. This will have wider importance for the resilience of supply chains that is essential in our uncertain, quickly changing world.

Dr Sarah Schiffling
Liverpool John Moores University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Coopetition in temporary contexts: examining swift trust and swift distrust in humanitarian operations, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, June 2020, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/ijopm-12-2019-0800.
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