Trustful Competitor & Distrustful Cooperator: Impacts of Assessment Biases on Trustworthy Coopetition in Policy
Coopetition is a universal relationship in policy network where various organizations cooperate and also compete with one another. In addition, trust and distrust may coexist in any pair relations in policy network. As the coexistence of cooperation and competition, (and also that of trust and distrust), is somewhat inevitable in policy network, how can we make such ambivalent relationships more reliable and trustful? With the paucity of the multi-dimensional approaches to the trust and distrust in coopetition considered, this study explored the patterns and drivers behind the two paradoxes: trustful competitor and distrustful cooperator, by using the survey and interview with the nuclear-related public institutions in South Korea. The recent situation of the nuclear science and engineering in South Korea can be described as coopetition among nuclearrelated ministries and institutions in three domains such as denuclearization, nuclear waste disposal, and nuclear industry development. Under such multidimensional relations in nuclear policy network, the interviewed organizations were asked to give their own assessments about: (1) trust and distrust in their peer organizations in nuclear policy network, (2) stance on nuclear science and policies, (3) attribution of nuclear policy issues, (4) power of self- and peer organizations, and (5) contribution to nuclear policy issues. The findings of this study imply two major points. First, the degrees of assessment bias between nuclear-related organizations in South Korea may lead to trust in competition and also to distrust in cooperation. Second, as the view gaps beget trust in competition as well as distrust in cooperation, what matters in coopetition in policy network is not whether there is a view gap or bias between the network actors but when (or where) such gap exists so it can be beneficial or harmful to the coopetition. Based on the findings, the study suggests the theoretical implications and practical conditions of “trustworthy coopetition” in policy network, in terms of self- and environment assessments.
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