Cooperation in competitive miniatures games : an examination of coopetitive behaviour : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Management at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The following study uses competitive miniatures board games as a novel research environment to examine how, when and why individuals choose between cooperative and competitive strategies to advance their interests, both within the game match itself and within the broader community of gamers, and what factors affect these decisions. Drawing on literature from the study fields of coopetition (a situation of simultaneous cooperation and competition) and decision making, the study focuses on environmental factors and systemic features of the games and game cultures, and how these impact player decisions and perspectives on the competitive/cooperative paradox. Findings supported value creation as a key motivator in player behaviour. Participants overall expressed a non zero-sum understanding of the coopetitive environment. The existence of a coopetitive tension within competitive miniatures games was acknowledged across the board, although its severity was perceived differently across participants. Participants also identified a number of key strategies and tools used to mitigate or navigate this tension. These included reciprocity, communicating intent, following the principles of clean play, and adhering to a set of unwritten rules and norms around sportsmanship and fairness. Players also identified a number of systemic features that results in negative experiences for them. These included gotchas, unclear rules, and a sense of imbalance that can result in a player feeling powerless and unengaged. Likewise, a number of systemic features that help reduce conflict were discussed. These included the existence of a tight ruleset, managing player expectations, and the establishment of a neutral authority to mediate disputes. The findings are used to propose a model of human behaviour in coopetitive situations, intended to further develop understanding of coopetition and behaviour within bilateral coopetitive environments.
Cooperativeness, Competition (Psychology), War games, Social aspects