Stever Robbins: Competition etc.

Vincent R Amanor-Boadu (
Fri, 30 Dec 1994 00:23:18 -0400 (EDT)

I think Steven has raised some important theoretical issues which
confound us in our application of metaphors in business. Competition has
a different meaning to economists and to the competition bureau or the
anti-trust watchdog. If we think of the the theoretical prerequisites
for competition to exist in the market place, then we can restructure our
metaphors to capture the true aspects of reality that we are trying to
help make simple.

The nature of emerging markets puts a lot of pressure on the neoclassical
definition of competition and forces us to look at markets as segmented
or pockets of players - producers and consumers. If markets are
segmented as they are, then there are not innumerable players which means
that the "invisible hand" does not always work. Conversation among the
players in the segment ensures that player behaviour is influenced by
other players' behaviour. In this way, the organic association metaphor
is applicable. Furthermore, I think that competitor behaviour is an
important aspect of strategies that are currently developed by
organizations. Under competition conditions as defined by theory, this
will be unnecessary. What these tell me is that the crass competition
paradigm is irrelevant in a highly segmented market - think about the
computer and electronic markets, the clothing and apparel markets, the
food and pharmaceutical markets, brands, trademarks, etc.

Any metaphor of organizational relationships that overlooks the nature of
markets will ultimately misrepresent relationships through inappropriate
metaphors. We have to work on understanding each pocket or segment of
the market and appreciate its characteristics in order to use the
appropriate metaphor to describe it and in the process create the most
learning for an organization's stakeholders.

I would appreciate the pursuit of thoughts on competition further because
I think it underlies the whole question of how to think about markets and
its players - producers and consumers alike.

I wish all of you a wonderful and prosperous 1995!

Vincent Amanor-Boadu
Tel.: 519 767-5007
Fax.: 519 837-8721