From Competitors to Partners

by David Elvin, Freelance Writer and Editor; Amherst, Massachusetts,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 3, Pg. 70-71

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Embracing a competitor as a business partner may be somewhat uncomfortable for small engineering firms—at least initially. There is natural concern about what a fellow team member—who remains a potential competitor for future projects—might do with sensitive internal information. But many engineering companies report that collaboration arrangements offer a competitive edge that is well worth the risk of sharing resources. Cooperative arrangements for small firms are typically subconsulting agreements or joint venture partnerships. The key to a successful team is choosing fellow participants wisely. Compatible team members usually share common approaches to management but possess different technical capabilities, creating a kind of vertical integration that expands the skill set of the team while helping to reduce concerns about sharing information. Collaborating can also help small firms share the risks and offer a complete bid package without high overhead or salary costs.

Subject Headings: Engineering firms | Partnerships | Competition |

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