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Competitive Solutions: The Strategist's Toolkit / Edition 1

Competitive Solutions: The Strategist's Toolkit / Edition 1

5.0 3
by R. Preston McAfee

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ISBN-10: 0691096465

ISBN-13: 9780691096469

Pub. Date: 09/30/2002

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Competitive Solutions is an entertaining and wideranging introduction to successful business methods applied to a variety of real-world situations. Rejecting the one-size-fits-all premise that underlies so many guides to business strategy, Preston McAfee develops the intellectual tools and insights needed to confront many marketplace problems. Drawing on his


Competitive Solutions is an entertaining and wideranging introduction to successful business methods applied to a variety of real-world situations. Rejecting the one-size-fits-all premise that underlies so many guides to business strategy, Preston McAfee develops the intellectual tools and insights needed to confront many marketplace problems. Drawing on his broad experience as a consultant for major U.S. companies, as well as extensive research, McAfee emphasizes cooperation, pricing, litigation, and antitrust as vital to a firm's competitive posture—and focuses more attention on these elements than do most business strategy accounts.

McAfee begins by considering strategy as successfully applied by America OnLine, an example that introduces many of the tools discussed in greater depth throughout the book. From here he moves to industry analysis: By examining the context for developing a strategy, he points out uses of positioning and differentiation that enable a firm to weaken price competition and deter rivals from stealing customers. McAfee's exploration of a product's life cycle proves an invaluable guide to positioning new technology in order to maximize the potential for future customers.

In the centerpiece of the book, McAfee lays out a how-to manual for cooperation, providing tactics crucial for setting standards, lobbying the government, and fostering industry growth. Writing in a conversational manner, McAfee also addresses such deep topics as organizational design and employee compensation and incentives. More detailed discussions examine antitrust enforcement, which is an increasingly important constraint on strategy, as well as strategies for pricing, bidding, signaling, and bargaining.

This book is a fascinating examination of modern business strategy and its application in many different settings. Students of business and economics—as well as executives and managers—will recognize Competitive Solutions as an indispensable resource as well as a definitive vision of the strategic firm: one in which each element of company strategy reinforces the other elements.

Author Biography: R. Preston McAfee is Murray S. Johnson Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. One of North America's leading experts in industrial organization, he is a coeditor of the American Economic Review. McAfee codesigned the Federal Communication Commission's PCS auctions, which raised $20 billion, and served as an expert for the Federal Trade Commission on a variety of matters, including the Exxon-Mobil and BP-Arco mergers.

Product Details

Princeton University Press
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Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Preamble xiii
Contents xvi
What Is Strategy? xviii
Acknowledgments xix
Chapter 1. Introduction 1
Executive Summary--Introduction 7
Chapter 2. Industry Analysis 9
The Five Six Forces 9
Entry 11
Buyer Bargaining Power 16
Supplier Bargaining Power 18
Substitute Products 18
Rivalry 19
Complements-The Sixth Force 23
Strategies for Complements 26
Industry Structures 27
Fragmented Industry 28
Dominant Firm 30
Tight Oligopoly 33
Loose Oligopoly 34
Executive Summary -Industry Analysis 34
Chapter 3. Firm Strategies 36
Value/Cost Strategies 36
Quality Choice without Competition 37
Games and Best Responses 38
The Effects of Competition on Quality Choice 42
Accommodation and Dissuasion 44
Low-Cost Strategy 45
Cream-Skimming 47
Coherent Strategies 48
The Three-Layer Model 50
Stuck in the Middle 56
Dealing with Competitors 57
Executive Summary--Firm Strategies 58
Chapter 4. Differentiation 61
Competition in Differentiated Products 63
Creating Synergies 70
Quality Complementarities 74
Networks 75
Technological Races 78
Patent Strategy 80
Hedonic Prices 85
Executive Summary--Differentiation 89
Chapter 5. Product Life Cycle 91
Introduction 95
Growth 97
Maturity 98
Decline and Replacement 101
Summary of the Product Life Cycle 105
The Life Cycle for Durable Goods 108
Executive Summary--Product Life Cycle 112
Chapter 6. Cooperation 113
Cooperation on a Variety of Issues 113
Tacit Collusion 116
Shared Interest 116
Punishment 119
Recovery 124
Problems of Tacit Cooperationin Price 127
Confessions 128
Many Producers 129
Differentiated Products 129
Reaction Time 130
Environmental Randomness 132
Motivating Managers 132
Efficient Allocation within a Cartel 133
Unenforceable Contracts 135
Risky Communication 135
Small or Failing Firms 135
Entry and Substitutes 136
Competition in Other Dimensions 137
Solutions to Tacit Cooperation Problems 138
Industry Association 138
Published Price Lists 139
Exclusive Territories 139
Preannouncing Future Price Increases 140
The Capture Theory 140
Incrementalism 141
Multimarket Contact 142
Multilevel Contact 144
Unused Capacity 144
Grow or Crush Small or Bankrupt Firms 145
Executive Summary--Cooperation 146
Chapter 7. Organizational Scope 148
Make or Buy Decisions 151
Tapered Integration 158
The Multidivisional Firm 160
Transaction Costs 163
Prices or Quantities 170
Net Present Value 172
Project Selection and Risk Assessment 179
Executive Summary--Organizational Scope 184
Chapter 8. Incentives 187
Agency 188
Efficiency Wages 191
Making Firms More Aggressive 192
Agent Selection 193
Managing Creative Talent 194
Multitasking 195
Common Agency 199
Tournaments and Yardstick Competition 201
Ratchet Effect 202
Executive Summary--Incentives 203
Chapter 9. Antitrust 204
Major Laws 204
Sherman Act (1890) 205
Clayton Act (1914) 206
FTC Act (1914) 209
Exemptions and Special Treatment 210
Predation, Foreclosure, and Tying 211
Mergers 214
DOJ Guidelines for Horizontal Mergers 216
Vertical Mergers and Antitrust Enforcement 221
Executive Summary--Antitrust 224
Chapter 10. Elementary Statistics 225
Opinion Polls 226
The Precision of Statistics 234
The Normal Distribution or Bell Curve 236
Conditional Probabilities and Correlation 239
The Predator Theory of Tornadoes 244
Sample Selection Bias 246
The Hot Hand 247
Option Values 251
Scenario Analysis 255
Executive Summary--Elementary Statistics 258
Chapter 11. Pricing 260
Illustrative Examples 262
International Pricing by the Pharmaceutical Companies 262
Methyl Methacrylate 262
Hand-Me-Down by Armani 264
IBM LaserPrinter E 264
Sony MiniDisc 265
An Electric Utility's Individualized Pricing 265
IBM's Punchcard Metering 266
Buying Paint from an Airline 266
Direct Price Discrimination 268
Indirect Price Discrimination 273
Coupons 273
Quantity Discounts 274
Product Branding 276
Product Bundling 277
Peak-Load Pricing 278
Yield Management 281
Theatrical Yield Management 284
Robert Crandall on Airline Pricing 285
Competition and Price Discrimination 288
How to Soften Price Competition 289
Opportunism and Exclusive Dealing 289
Create Competition by Licensing 292
Vertically Integrate with the Buyers 292
Long-Term Contracts 292
Exclusive Contracts 293
Most-Favored-Customer Clauses 293
Uniform, Simple Contracts 294
Pricing of Complements 295
Price Dispersion and the Theory of Sales 297
Executive Summary--Pricing 300
Chapter 12. Auctions 303
Bidding 303
The English Auction 304
The Sealed-Bid Auction 305
The Winner's Curve 307
Updating 311
Selling Strategy and Auction Design 312
When to Auction? 320
Executive Summary--Auctions 322
Chapter 13. Signaling 324
Signaling in Action 324
Law Firms' Marbled Buildings 324
Service Plans and Warranties 325
The $25,000 Rolex Watch 327
Body Language 327
Education 328
Full Product Line 331
Appearing Informed in an Auction 333
Tylenol Recall 333
Lemons 337
Introductory Offers and Advertising 340
Entry Deterrence 342
Leadership 344
Acting Tough 345
Vaporware 348
Product Failures 349
Signaling Psychosis 350
Executive Summary--Signaling 351
Chapter 14. Bargaining 353
Basic Theory 353
Delay 356
The War of Attrition 357
Lawsuits 360
Drug Wars 361
BSB versus Sky TV 364
Holdup 364
Contract Design and Verification 366
Verification and Observability 367
Renegotiation Proofness 369
Breach Penalties 370
Strategic Ambiguity 372
Delegation 373
Exploding Offers 373
Multilateral Bargaining 374
Cheap Talk 376
Executive Summary--Bargaining 378
Chapter 15. Last Words 379
Sustaining Competitive Advantages 379
Endnotes: Sources and Caveats 381
Index 393

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Competitive Solutions: The Strategist's Toolkit 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Rothstein More than 1 year ago
McAfee cuts to the chase in this brief, but eloquently written book that provides an elegant and concise treatment of economics and business strategy. If you want to read one business book this year, this little gem should be the one. Great for students who want to better understand economics and the role of business, for managers who wish to improve firm productivity and employee morale, and for the common lay person who would like to sound a little more intelligent at the next cocktail party. This is a great read for all and I have covered it many times.