Is Business Strategy a Non-Zero-Sum Game?

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Ryan, USA

Is Business Strategy a Non-Zero-Sum Game?

I found that a ZERO-SUM GAME is a game with a clear winner and one or more clear losers. The more outcomes or results one player receives, the fewer outcomes or results are available for the other players. In other words, in zero-sum games the total benefit to all players in the game, for every combination of strategies, always adds to zero.
In a NON-ZERO-SUM GAME on the other hand, there is not a fixed pie of outcomes or possible results, there is an opportunity for all players to maximize their outcomes simultaneously. In a worst-case scenario the outcomes of one player do not remove outcomes from any other player. And in a best-case scenario, the outcomes of one player may be interdependenty linked to the maximization of the other players' outcomes.
Often (typically) business strategy is seen as a zero-sum game, but it has elements of both game types ... What are NON-zero game characteristics of business strategy?

  Ian Sutherland, UK

Rational or not

As I understand it, game theory persumes that players on the same side have the same motivation. In business this is rar...

  Mary, USA

Assumption of Utility

Indeed Ian, another game theory assumption is that all participants are motivated inherently to maximize their utility (...

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Utility variations

Note that there could be conflicting group and individual utilities and short-term and long-term utilities....

  srikanth, India

Business is a NON-zero sum game

I think the definition of "ZERO SUM GAME" by Ryan is slightly wrong. A "ZERO SUM GAME " is a game in which the total of...

  Richard D. Cushing, USA

Free Market Exchanges

I would add to and extend srikanth's (India) statement to say this: All real-life business exchanges in a free market a...

  Gillion Utens, The Netherlands

Game Theory literature

Recommended literature on this subject: Robert Axelrod - The evolution of cooperation (1981). Or watch the BBC documenta...

  Bas, Netherlands


As was said in the article, this is just a simplification. In the real world, no two consumers are the same. Companies ...


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👀Is Business Strategy a Non-Zero-Sum Game?
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