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Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy
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Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  474 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
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 indus ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Portfolio (first published 2005)
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Jun 21, 2016 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My key take-aways for this book are:
• Strategy is outward focused; on the actions of other economic entities
• It is almost impossible to excell in strategic thinking without clarity
• Operational Efficiency is important for profitability – but it is not strategy
• The most important competitive force is «barriers to entry»

Mr. Greenwald is a professor at Columbia University in NY and have for many years been teaching the «Economics of Strategic Behavior» MBA class. I heard about this book through a
Firebox Research & Strategy
I felt this book was more helpful in understanding the pursuit of business strategy than books like The Art of War. Perhaps I just had terrific strategy professors in grad school, but TAoW seemed too plain and bland to me, almost like I was reading something I had read or learned before. Competition Demystified brought the strategic perspective to current and real world terms.

A good read for college business students.

- Adam -
David Skinner
Nov 21, 2016 David Skinner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed the way that I think about strategy and the way to focus the strengths of our company in our competitive landscape. Successful firms recognize their competitive advantage and they leverage those advantage in the marketplace. They do not delude themselves into thinking they are good at what they are not good at, they avoid what they are bad at, and they always always always re-commit themselves to pursuing operational efficiencies. This book can be petty and academic at points, ...more
Justin Brown
Jan 05, 2017 Justin Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suggest this before you get into anything by Michael Porter.
Viktor Nilsson
Nov 10, 2016 Viktor Nilsson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
My perspective on business has never been management, but rather investment. Still, this book had been recommended by several respected investors, so I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed!

The title aptly describes what this book is about: formulating a business strategy, based on the presence or absence of competitive advantages (barriers of entry into an industry - "moat" in the words of Warren Buffett). Greenwald has build a framework from Michael Porter's famous theories, but put
Oct 21, 2015 Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strategy
In Competition Demystified: A Radically Simplified Approach to Business Strategy, author Bruce Greenwald tries to argue that one can analyze competition in a simpler way than Porter's Five Forces. Mr. Greenwald proposes to focus only on one factor: the barrier to entry. According to Mr. Greenwald, barrier to entry is the single, most significant factor that affects competition in the marketplace. In this book, Mr. Greenwald discusses why barrier of entry is the most significant force. He also pr ...more
pavana Kumar Varanasi
Its a damn good book which illustrates many points which were previously unknown to me. He clearly explains a lot of concepts with real world examples.

some good points from book are:

1) Importance of fixed costs (not assets) and its relation to
competitive advantage. exmaples given are microsoft, intel etc.

2) a brand doesn't mean that it is a good economic prospect to a company.
e.g. mercedes benz inspite of having a good brand is not an economically
superior operation.

3) customer capitivity (habit
May 03, 2016 Zahedul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author dissects the Porter’s Five Forces Model to elucidate the reasons why internal competition and threat from new entrants should be the main factors while devising strategies. He backs up his arguments with a number of case studies.

My main takeaways include:

1. Economies of scale experienced by incumbents is a major barrier to entry for new entrants. But this barrier will cease to be effective if the market is growing by double digits. Following the same logic, niche market is easier to
Jul 31, 2016 Pontaeus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a broken review, as I read the first third, then skipped to the pages/chapters i thought interesting.

The book strikes me as non-saying. There's a lot of words and cases presented, but minimal critical/useful information presented. Many of the cases are out of date (like Apple around early 2000s which the authors conclude are "going nowhere"), but the faulty analysis proves to me that their framework is not very useful. They're trying to give insight into the business-cases presented fro
Feb 21, 2012 Nefficus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: investing
Overall just average. There are some important concepts - like assessing the existence of competitive advantage by stable and large market shares and clarifying that barriers to entry is the important determinant of competitive advantage...but this could have been said in half the pages. The examples used are hit-and-miss. Certainly the author has to regret the presentation of Apple as an example of a company that is highly unlikely to regain a strong competitive position - it might be the worst ...more
Dec 12, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great piece on competition and a must read for any serious business/security analyst or corporate strategist.

My only issue with the book is that when you try and distill/simplify you might overlook or miss important exceptions/black swans.

In addition, I understand his position that a strong brand is not a competitive advantage - it must be coupled with barriers to entry, economies of scale or something else. However, many times in highly competitive markets (restaurants, retail) many
May 10, 2013 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Porter proposed that their were five key forces to understand before formulating a business's strategy. Greenwald convincingly argues that one of those forces is by far the most important: competition within the industry.

Greenwald logically lays out a framework for assessing the competitive landscape. Grossly simplified it is this. Does the firm have a competitive advantage? If it does, the firm needs to figure how to best manage its interactions with its competitors. If it lacks a comp

Apr 01, 2015 Tirath rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was let down by this book, expected much more even though some of the stuff was very well written.
WMT, KO, Pepsi, Kodak, Coors - many case studies about how companies failed or succeeded based largely on barriers to entry and competitive strategy.
For me, I expected more to be written about luck, managerial prowess, and brand value even though he touches on these topics.

But yes, it's a good book for the library and for gentle reminders of how companies make mistakes.
Aug 24, 2016 Ned rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book describes the different dimensions that identify the market conditions and the probable competition with other companies. For example, what happens when there are barries to entry, how incumbent and entrant will behave along with strategies that could benefit the business. There are plenty of examples that illustrate both sides. Good book for understanding the market condition and evaluating the market a company is in.
Brentley Campbell
Greatly deepens one's understanding of how firms enjoy competitive advantages by explaining three categories that contribute to a moat:
1. Supply- cost advantage, frequently from prop technology or by know-how
2. Demand- switching costs, based on habit, demand that can't be stolen easily
3. Economies of Scale- larger scale, lower ratio of fixed costs to sales

It is always best to have the combination of economies of scale with a demand advantage (Coca-Cola, etc.)
Wilbert Van Der Kruk
Excellent guide to assessing strategy in competitive environments. The book has given me better ways to articulate strategy and strategic themes and approaches. It is helpful in considering which business to develop, where to invest and what are good reasons to do so. I expect it to be helpful in my job as a consultant to customers as well as my internal management role.
Mike Landau
Apr 16, 2013 Mike Landau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful framework for understanding any underlying business and their competitive advantages. Examples help to drive home the point, but another that belongs on every investor's bookshelf.
Laksha Shetty
Laksha Shetty rated it it was amazing
Oct 08, 2016
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Service Solahart
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Miguel Sanz Castelló rated it it was amazing
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“keep in mind Einstein’s admonition that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” 0 likes
“If no forces interfere with the process of entry by competitors, profitability will be driven to levels at which efficient firms earn no more than a “normal” return on their invested capital. It is barriers to entry, not differentiation by itself, that creates strategic opportunities.” 0 likes
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