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Economics of Strategy. Besanko, Dranove and Shanley. Chapter 8 Strategic Commitment. Slide show prepared by Richard PonArul California State University Modified by BK Hobbs FGCU.  John Wiley  Sons, Inc. Strategic Commitment.

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slide1

Economics of Strategy

Besanko, Dranove and Shanley

Chapter 8

Strategic Commitment

Slide show prepared by

Richard PonArul

California State University

Modified by BK Hobbs

FGCU

 John Wiley  Sons, Inc.

strategic commitment
Strategic Commitment
  • Strategic commitments are decisions that have long run impact and are hard to reverse (e.g., installation of additional production capacity a priori to actual production)
  • Strategic commitments differ from tactical moves which are easy to reverse and have only a short run impact (e.g., a store cutting the price on certain items)
strategic commitment3
Strategic Commitment
  • To achieve the desired result, the commitment must be
    • visible
    • understandable
    • credible
  • To be credible, the commitment should be irreversible
commitment value of announcements
Commitment Value of Announcements
  • If a firm has an established reputation at stake, even an announcement of intention to act can have commitment value (they have carried through before and they will again.)
  • However, if the firm fails to match actions to words, it will lose credibility and reputation as a player will suffer
  • Smaller and newer firms cannot rely on reputation of past actions to indicate commitment
reversible and irreversible moves
Reversible and Irreversible Moves
  • Reversible moves are more likely to be matched by rivals than irreversible moves
  • Empirical evidence from the airline industry supports this view
    • Airlines respond quickly to price cuts by rivals (which are easily reversible) but slowly or not at all to irreversible moves by a competing carrier (e.g., acquisitions, set-up of hubs or maintenance facilities)
strategic substitutes and complements
Strategic Substitutes and Complements
  • How do firms react to one another’s strategic moves?
strategic substitutes
Strategic Substitutes
  • When a rival firm increases their supply to market, the other firm decreases its supply
  • When a rival firm decreases their supply to market, the other firm increases its supply
  • Strategic substitutes move in opposite directions
strategic substitutes8
Strategic Substitutes
  • Passive behavior leads to an aggressive response by the rival firm
  • Aggressive behavior leads to a passive response by the rival firm
  • Usually, quantities and capacity moves are strategic substitutes
strategic substitutes9
Strategic Substitutes
  • Use the Cournot Model
  • Reaction curves are upward sloping
    • one firm’s decision to increase output will cause the other to reduce its output, therefore output decisions are strategic substitutes
    • one firm’s decision to decrease output will cause the other to increase its output, therefore output decisions are strategic substitutes
strategic complements
Strategic Complements
  • When a rival firm increases their price, the other firm will also increase price
  • When a rival firm decreases their price, the other firm will also decrease price
  • Strategic complements move in the same direction
strategic complements11
Strategic Complements
  • Aggressive Behavior leads to an aggressive response by the rival firm
  • Usually, price moves are strategic complements
strategic complements12
Strategic Complements
  • Use the Bertrand Model
  • Reaction functions are upward sloping
    • one firm’s decision to increase the price will cause the other to increase the price as well, therefore price decisions are strategic complements
    • one firm’s decision to decrease the price will cause the other to decrease the price as well, therefore price decisions are strategic complements
commitments strategic effect vs direct effects
Commitments – Strategic Effect vs. Direct Effects
  • Direct Effect
    • Impact on NPV of the firm’s profits
  • Strategic Effects
    • Impact on the competitive environment facing the firm over the long term
    • “How does the commitment alter the tactical decisions of the rival, and ultimately, the market equilibrium?”
tough vs soft commitments
Tough vs. Soft Commitments
  • Tough Commitments are “bad” for competitors
    • Conforms to our cultural view of competition, creates winners and losers
    • Win/Lose model
    • Prevalent in Cournot-type industries
  • Soft Commitments are “good” for competitors
    • Win/Win model
    • Soft commitments can produce strategically benificial effects
timing
Timing
  • One firm makes a strategic commitment and then the stage is set for it and its rival firms to compete at a tactical level
  • A “two-stage” game
    • Stage One: The strategic decision is made
    • Stage Two: The tactical maneuvering begins (given the strategic commitment made in Stage One)
tough commitments
Tough Commitments
  • The immediate effect of a tough commitment is to produce an adverse impact on your rival
    • e.g., a firm invests in a new production process that reduces unit cost so that it can lower its price, forcing rivals to lower theirs also
  • Tough commitment conforms to the traditional “zero-sum game” view of competition
soft commitments
Soft Commitments
  • The immediate effect of a soft commitment is a favorable impact on the rival
  • To understand why soft commitments may make sense, we need to look at both the short term initial effects and the long term strategic effects
two effects of commitments
Two Effects of Commitments
  • Commitment can have a direct effect and a strategic effect on the firm’s profitability
    • Direct effect is the change in the present value of profits assuming that the rival’s tactics are unaffected by the commitment
    • Strategic effect is the further change in the present value of the firm’s profits due to the rival adjusting its tactics
the value of soft commitment
The Value of Soft Commitment
  • Suppose a firm that makes a soft commitment to raise its price. It may experience a direct negative effect on its profitability in the short term
  • However, if the optimal response of the rival is to raise its price also, the strategic effect can be beneficial (i.e., Everyone gets to raise price)
the value of soft commitment20
The Value of Soft Commitment
  • If the strategic effect is sufficiently large, the net benefit from the commitment will be positive
  • If the NPV of the Strategic Effect > NPV of the Direct Effect, then the soft commitment pays off over the long term.
an analysis of soft and tough commitments
An Analysis of Soft and Tough Commitments
  • In the first stage Firm 1 makes either a soft commitment or a tough commitment
  • The second stage of competition between the rivals will be classified as either Cournot or Bertrand
cournot after soft commitment24
Cournot After Soft Commitment
  • Firm 1 shifts its reaction function to the left, committing to produce less (than pre-commitment level) for every level of rival’s output
    • Rival (Firm2) reacts by increasing their output and Firm 2 ends up producing more than what it produced due to Firm 1’s soft commitment
bertrand after soft commitment26
Bertrand After Soft Commitment
  • Firm 1 commits to charge a higher (than the pre-commitment level) price for every price level picked by the rival
    • Firm 2’s reaction provides a even higher price (for both firms)
    • Both firms benefit from Firm 1’s soft commitment
cournot after tough commitment28
Cournot After Tough Commitment
  • Firm 1 commits to a higher than previous output for every output choice of the rival
    • Rival’s (Firm 2) reaction function makes the equilibrium output of Firm 1 even higher
    • Firm 2 produces less than what it produced previously due to the tough commitment from Firm 1
bertrand after tough commitment30
Bertrand After Tough Commitment
  • Firm 1 commits to a lower price by shifting its reaction function to the left
  • Firm 2’s reaction further lowers the equilibrium price
  • Both firms end up hurt by Firm 1’s tough commitment
can the negative strategic effect be forestalled
Can the Negative Strategic Effect be Forestalled?
  • If the direct effect is positive and the strategic effect negative, can the firm forestall the latter?
  • Example: The net present value of cost reducing commitment is positive. Can the negative strategic effect be avoided by refusing to lower the price?
can the negative strategic effect be forestalled33
Can the Negative Strategic Effect be Forestalled?
  • If the profit maximizing strategy (after the commitment) is to lower the price, rival will assume that the firm will do so
  • It is difficult to convince a rival that your firm will act against its own interest in the second stage
a taxonomy of strategic commitments
A Taxonomy of Strategic Commitments

When Second Stage Actions are Strategic Substitutes

a taxonomy of strategic commitments35
A Taxonomy of Strategic Commitments

When Second Stage Actions are Strategic Complements

factors that influence the strategic effect
Factors that Influence the Strategic Effect
  • In general, commitments that lead to less aggressive behavior from the rivals will have beneficial strategic effect
  • If the rival is a potential entrant rather than an existing firm, a tough commitment to price aggressively may deter entry
factors that influence the strategic effect37
Factors that Influence the Strategic Effect
  • If the rivals is an existing firm and there is excess capacity in the industry, aggressive pricing may invite retaliation
  • If the products are horizontally differentiated, the strategic effect may be relatively less important since the rival does not have the incentive to react (“you take your market and I’ll take mine”)
flexibility and option value
Flexibility and Option Value
  • The value of commitments lies in creating inflexibility
  • However, when there is uncertainty, flexibility is valuable since future options are kept open
  • Commitments cut off flexibility and thus sacrifice the value of the options
commitment flexibility tradeoff
Commitment-Flexibility Tradeoff
  • By waiting, a firm preserves its option values
  • At the same time, the firm gives rivals the time to make preemptive investments
    • e.g., Philips decides to delay its CD manufacturing plant in the U.S., allowing Sony to build its plant first
a framework for analyzing commitments
A Framework for Analyzing Commitments
  • Pankaj Ghemawat has developed a four step process for analyzing commitment intensive decisions
    • Positioning Analysis
    • Sustainability Analysis
    • Flexibility Analysis
    • Judgment Analysis
strategic commitments
Strategic Commitments
  • Often
    • durable
    • relationship specific
    • difficult to transfer or re-deploy
    • “sticky” or “lumpy”
positioning analysis
Positioning Analysis
  • Positioning analysis is akin to the determination of the direct effect of commitment
  • The focus is on whether the firm operates with lower costs than its competitors or offers superior benefits to its customers
sustainability analysis
Sustainability Analysis
  • Sustainability analysis resembles the determination of the strategic effect
  • It analyzes the response by competitors and potential entrants
  • It also looks at the market imperfections that protect the firm’s competitive advantage
flexibility analysis
Flexibility Analysis
  • Flexibility analysis incorporates uncertainty and option value
  • A key determinant of the option value is the ratio of the “learn rate” to the “burn rate” of the firm
  • The rate at which a firm receives new information that allows it adjust its strategy is termed the “learn rate”
flexibility analysis45
Flexibility Analysis
  • The rate at which the firm makes irreversible investments in support of its strategy is the “burn rate”
  • A high learn to burn ratio indicates that the option value of delay is low
  • Firms can increase their learn to burn ratios through experimentation and pilot programs
judgment analysis
Judgment Analysis
  • Judgment analysis involves looking at the organizational and managerial factors to ensure that incentives exist to support the optimal strategy
  • Hierarchical decision making may create a bias towards Type I errors - rejecting good projects
judgment analysis47
Judgment Analysis
  • Decentralized decision making may result in higher incidence of Type II errors - accepting unprofitable projects
  • Managers should be cognizant of the biases imparted by the structure of the organization and its politics and culture