In managing organisations for optimal performance, managers are faced with the dilemma of either positioning their employees to compete or collaborate internally within the organisation. Internal competition can motivate individuals and teams to strive to be the best and in so doing result in continuous incremental performance improvements. In contrast, internal collaboration can result in effective problem solving through knowledge sharing and innovation. Management is therefore faced with a challenging dilemma of how best to leverage these seemingly opposing tensions for optimal performance.
This study investigated the key factors that drive the adoption of internal competition and internal collaboration in organisations, the consequences of implementing either management approach, how levels of internal competition and internal collaboration vary at different management levels in the organisation and finally whether a viable hybrid combination of both management approaches was possible. To this end a qualitative research study with an explorative design was conducted with twenty senior executives. The insights from these in-depth interviews formed the basis of the data that was analysed to produce the research findings in this study.
The research identified drivers and outcomes of the management approaches under review. The Internal Competition and Internal Collaboration Hybrid Model (Figure 14) emerged from these research findings. This model was found to confirm while the management approaches are different there is an optimal way of combining them to allow managers to leverage competitive and collaborative tensions. In this way managers can achieve sustainable high performance within their organisation.