Investigating Blue Ocean v. Competitive Strategy: A Statistical Analysis of the Retail Industry
The recent work of Kim and Mauborgne (2005a) has sought to turn strategic management on its head. They note that the field has been dominated by Porter’s (1980, 1985) competitive strategy and it has placed too much emphasis on the importance of competition and rivalry. By contrast they argue in favour of an alternative strategic approach – blue ocean strategy – where firms focus on value innovation, creating consumer demand and exploiting untapped markets. So far empirical analysis in this debate has been focused on case study evidence and hence has been limited in its ability to generalise. The massive appeal of the blue ocean strategy is in stark contrast with the paucity of research testing the viability and relevance of this alternative strategic approach. In this paper we use a comprehensive data set on the Dutch retail industry in order to bring some statistical evidence to the debate. We investigate the prevalence of blue ocean versus competitive strategy in this industry over the period 1982-2000. Our results show that blue ocean strategy and competitive strategy coexist within the same competitive theoretical framework. The results highlight that the dominance of either form of strategy is not categorical but rather determined by the market conditions in which the firms operate.
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