How Coopetition Influences the Development of a Dominant Design: Evidence from the Pinball Industry

  • Fanny Simon University of Rouen Normandy, NIMEC UPRES EA 969, Rouen, France
  • Albéric Tellier Paris-Dauphine University, PSL University, CNRS 7088, DRM (M-LAB), Paris, France
Keywords: Coopetition, Dominant Design, Historical Analysis, Innovation, Pinball


Most studies concerning dominant designs focus on ‘collective’ or ‘competitive’ strategies that companies deploy to impose their choices on the market. The objective of this research is to assess the extent to which ‘coopetitive’ strategies may lead to a dominant design. We analyzed the development of a dominant design over an 84-year period through a historical study in the field of pinball machines. Our study focuses on the five main manufacturers of pinball machines and analyzes data from 1930 to 2014. We demonstrate that companies undergo three phases that involve the progressive development of coopetitive relationships with different impacts on the generation of innovation. Because manufacturers differentiated their offerings, innovated and simultaneously imitated others, increased competition resulted. Simultaneously, external threats and the need to collectively respond to clients and partners prompted the manufacturers to cooperate with one another. Thus, our research provides a better understanding of how specific horizontal coopetitive relationships among manufacturers of the same type of products impact the development of a dominant design at the industry level. This case study suggests that as a theoretical framework, coopetition introduces new insights into the comprehension of relational dynamics during the development of dominant designs. Our observations also confirm or invalidate conclusions drawn in previous works related to coopetition strategies. In particular, this case is interesting as although the appropriability regime was weak, companies still developed coopetitive relationships, contradicting previous studies.


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Author Biographies

Fanny Simon, University of Rouen Normandy, NIMEC UPRES EA 969, Rouen, France

Fanny Simon is a Full Professor of management at the University of Rouen Normandy. She is a researcher at the NIMEC laboratory. Her research deals with innovation management and social network analysis. She has published several works on creativity and innovation management in European Management Journal, Advances in Strategic Management, International Management and International Journal of Project Management.

Albéric Tellier, Paris-Dauphine University, PSL University, CNRS 7088, DRM (M-LAB), Paris, France

Albéric Tellier is a Full Professor at Paris-Dauphine University, PSL University. His field of research is the management of innovation. His works have focused most notably on the configuration and workings of innovation networks, situations of technological competition and collective strategies for innovation.


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1. The skill game sector includes firms specializing in the production, distribution, and operation of gaming devices that offer no winnings to players. It is basically foosball, pinball, billiards, arcade games and darts.

2. In the early 1970s, health problems forced David Gottlieb to stop working. He died in 1974. Obviously, his successors at the head of the company resumed the filing of patents as shown in Table 6.

How to Cite
Simon, F., & Tellier, A. (2020). How Coopetition Influences the Development of a Dominant Design: Evidence from the Pinball Industry. M@n@gement, 23(2), 61-75.
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