Managing Global Enterprises

Competitive Strategy | 2019-20

This Course dives deeply into business strategy, beginning with a comprehensive overview of competitive advantage and how game theory can help a businessperson achieve it. Professor Larkin then moves into technology strategy – so critical in today’s global market and finally to non-market strategy, in which forces not motivated by profit affect a company’s success.

Faculty

Prof. Ian Larkin

Prof. Ian Larkin

Professor

Ian Larkin is an Assistant Professor in the Strategy group at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He researches the optimal use of formal rewards systems by companies, given the complex and often unanticipated effects these systems have on employee motivation and decision making. His research quantifying the cost incurred by a major enterprise software vendor due to salespeople deliberately gaming their sales commission system, published in The Journal of Labor Economics, is one of the most prominently cited empirical studies of incentive system gaming. It was the basis for a case study widely used in MBA classes on compensation and human resource management.

His recent research focuses on corporate awards and other programs companies use to formally recognize employee performance, and demonstrates that these programs often have unintended costs, such as the demotivation of some employee groups. A final stream of research investigates physician prescribing decisions in light of different sales tactics used by pharmaceutical sales representatives. His research has been discussed in a variety of media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and National Public Radio.

Ian teaches the core Business Strategy course at Anderson. Before coming to Anderson, he was a member of the faculty at Harvard Business School, where he taught an elective MBA course on human resource management, as well as several executive education courses. He received a Ph.D. from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and a M.Sc. from the University of London, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. Ian worked as an Associate and Engagement Manager for McKinsey and Company, based in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.

Ian’s hobbies include cooking, traveling and supporting the Green Bay Packers.

Course Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Use precepts of game theory to develop a business strategy with good potential to achieve competitive advantage.
  • Employ the key ideas of disruptive innovation and network effects to carve a unique place in the market for your company.
  • Influence non-market players such as the media and governmental agencies to communicate and maintain conditions favorable for your business.
  • Explain the relationship between “competitive advantage” and “business strategy.”
  • Given a particular business situation, propose at least two sources of competitive advantage based on barriers to imitation.
  • Given a particular business situation, propose at least two sources of competitive advantage based on positioning.
  • Use a decision tree and backward-induction reasoning to make the most advantageous choice in a given situation.
  • Analyze a simultaneous game based on the Prisoner’s Dilemma to make the most advantageous choice in a given situation.
  • Develop a plan, based on a given set of circumstances, to send a signal to your competitors to deliberately influence their beliefs.
  • Interpret an S-curve showing the adoption patterns of two competing technologies.
  • Recommend corrective action/s for an incumbent faced with a disruptive innovation, hoping to regain lost market share.
  • Propose a solution involving a network effect to help a specific company increase its level of success in the market.
  • Use the 4 I’s Model to analyze non-market forces in a given situation to make needed adjustments in a company’s overall strategy.
  • Develop a business strategy that maximizes positive results by cooperating with the media on a news story.
  • Propose an approach to work cooperatively with a governmental agency, given a specific business situation.

Syllabus

Strategy: Competitive Strategy

Learning Objectives:

As a result of participating in this module, you will be able to:

  • Explain the relationship between “competitive advantage” and “business strategy.”
  • Given a particular business situation, propose at least two sources of competitive advantage based on barriers to imitation.
  • Given a particular business situation, propose at least two sources of competitive advantage based on positioning.

Module Components:

Video Lectures:

  • Defining Competitive Advantage
  • Strategic Capabilities
  • Strategic Positioning

Readings:

  • Porter’s Startegy Frameworks
  • Sustainable Competitive Advantage
  • Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage
  • Human Resources Innovation for Competitive Advantage – Insights from Australia

Case Study:

  • Case Study: SAFER-911

Quiz:

  • Competitive Advantage

Strategy: Competitive Dynamics

Learning Objectives:

As a result of participating in this module, you will be able to:

  • Use a decision tree and backward-induction reasoning to make the most advantageous choice in a given situation.
  • Analyze a simultaneous game based on the Prisoner’s Dilemma to make the most advantageous choice in a given situation.
  • Develop a plan, based on a given set of circumstances, to send a signal to your competitors to deliberately influence their beliefs.

Module Components:

Video Lectures:

  • Introduction to Game Theory
  • Simultaneous Games
  • Applications of Game Theory

Readings:

  • Game Theory – Prisoner’s Dilemma, Dominant Strategy and Nash Equilibrium
  • Game Theory Applications to Oligopoly
  • Nokia’s Smartphone Strategy

Case Study:

  • Case Study: SAFER-911 (Continued – Part 1)

Quiz:

  • Competitive Dynamics

Technology Strategy

Learning Objectives:

As a result of participating in this module, you will be able to:

  • Interpret an S-curve showing the adoption patterns of two competing technologies.
  • Recommend corrective action/s for an incumbent faced with a disruptive innovation, hoping to regain lost market share.
  • Propose a solution involving a network effect to help a specific company increase its level of success in the market.

Module Components:

Video Lectures:

  • Understanding S-Curves
  • Disruptive Innovation
  • Understanding Network Effects

Readings:

  • Diffusion of Innovation Theory: The “S” Curve
  • Navigating and Adopting Change
  • MOOCs: A Disruptive Innovation?
  • Network Effects Explained

Case Study:

  • Case Study: SAFER-911 (Continued – Part 2)

Quiz:

  • Technology Strategy

Non-Market Strategy

Learning Objectives:

As a result of participating in this module, you will be able to:

  • Use the 4 I’s Model to analyze non-market forces in a given situation to make needed adjustments in a company’s overall strategy.
  • Develop a business strategy that maximizes positive results by cooperating with the media on a news story.
  • Propose an approach to work cooperatively with a governmental agency, given a specific business situation.

Module Components:

Video Lectures:

  • Understanding Non-Market Strategy
  • The Role of Media
  • Government’s Role in Businesses

Readings:

  • Strategic Activism and Non-Market Strategy
  • The Value of Spreadable Media and Virality
  • Public and Private Strategy

Case Study:

  • Case Study: SAFER-911 (Continued – Part 3)

Quiz:

  • Non-Market Strategy

Support

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