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Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy

Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy [Kindle Edition]

Bruce C. Greenwald , Judd Kahn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Bruce Greenwald, one of the nation?s leading business professors, presents a new and simplified approach to strategy that cuts through much of the fog that has surrounded the subject. Based on his hugely popular course at Columbia Business School, Greenwald and his coauthor, Judd Kahn, offer an easy-to-follow method for understanding the competitive structure of your industry and developing an appropriate strategy for your specific position.

Over the last two decades, the conventional approach to strategy has become frustratingly complex. It?s easy to get lost in a sophisticated model of your competitors, suppliers, buyers, substitutes, and other players, while losing sight of the big question: Are there barriers to entry that allow you to do things that other firms cannot?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1754 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (18 Aug 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840572
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #103,895 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barriers to Competition 21 Feb 2011
By DigiTAL
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Warren Buffett is famous for preferring companies with "wide moats" -- those with unassailable competitive advantages -- as they are capable of producing superior returns for years on end.

Greenwald and Kahn's book analyses the sources of these advantages. From the preface:

"On a level playing field, in a market open to competitors on equal terms, competition will erode the returns of all players to a uniform minimum. Therefore, to earn profits above this minimum, a company must be able to do something that its competitors cannot. It must, in other words, benefit from competitive advantages."

In the economists' dictionary these advantages are called "barriers to entry". These might be due to a large firm benefiting from an economy of scale -- its large size enables it sell at goods at a lower cost. Some industries, such as utilities, have large barriers to entry because of incredibly high start-up costs. These industries are known as "natural monopolies" and are often strongly regulated to keep profits artificially low.

One recurring competitive advantage in the modern economy is the "network effect": sites such as Facebook and eBay have incredible inherent advantages because the size of their user base presents an insurmountable challenge to competitors.

Older competitive advantages are often due to geography. Wal-Mart is used as a case-study of this barrier. Wal-Mart has benefited from a superior distribution network which allows it to deliver goods in-store cheaper than any of its local rivals. This allows Wal-Mart to undercut competitors or enjoy fatter profit margins; hence explaining the firm's enduring profitability.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although the case stories were often quite old this was a very throroughly grounded book and made some real contributions to strategy theory by integrating strategic analysis, economic value and game theory in a deeper way than in my own PHD on linking the two which two decades ago made real progress on this richly complex area.It did a very deep critique of more naiive valuations of businesses and strategies using EVA although I would differ a bit in their possibly over prudent suggestions on how to frame the assumptions.I will be using this debate on my next course! They were spot on in highlighting how often growth destroys shareholder vaue- Dr Tony Grundy
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By Catrina
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a great all-rounder book and teaches in very simple terms and vivid examples about competitive advantages and strategy. It's an easy read of essential concepts that I think everyone should have a good understanding of - I can't think of any position in a firm that this book wouldn't benefit.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
There are so many excellent books already in print that focus on the formulation, implementation, and refinement of business strategy. (Several are identified within this book's Notes section.) That said, I remain convinced that senior-level executives should complete some due diligence on several volumes available by reading the comments on those which are rated highest in the Customer Reviews provided by Amazon. I also think it desirable to consult more than one source (preferably several) which seem most relevant to the specific circumstances within the given organization.

In this volume, Greenwald and Kahn succeed remarkably well with clarifying their readers' "understanding of strategy and to reframe their approach to it. We want executives to know how their markets work, where there competitive opportunities lie, and how to develop and protect them. To this end, we include both broad discussions of general principles and detailed case studies of actual competitive interactions. Taken together, we think they present a useful guide for people who make strategic decisions."

In large organizations, there are entire departments responsible for strategic planning. (Obviously, their efforts are supervised by senior-level executives and usually a board member or two.) In much smaller organizations, strategic planning may be conducted by the owner/CEO alone or by one or two executives. Whatever the situation, strategies are still "hammers" which drive "nails" (i.e. tactics) and invariably require both long-term commitments and substantial allocation of resources. Strategies are the cornerstones of plans for achieving and then sustaining success, plans which specifically focus on the actions and responses of competitors.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Figure out the company's MOAT 15 Nov 2009
This is a fabulous book on learning about a company's moat. Warren Buffett coined this term, which simply means a competitive advantage. A moat protects the company's revenues from competitors just like a moat protected a castle from invaders. I found this book extremely helpful because it helped me with competition and market analysis. I also read Michael Porter's books and I enjoyed them very much, but this book was simpler to understand.

In this book, readers learn how to evaluate if the company has any benefits from barriers to entry and whether the moats come from a proprietary technical advantage, customer captivity or economies of scale.

For readers looking for more books on this subject, I also recommend The Little Book That Builds Wealth by Pat Dorsey of Morningstar. In his book, he describes that moats can come from intangible assets, switching costs, network effect, and cost advantages.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
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