Competitive Strategy

Excellence in Strategic Scholarship

The Cross-Disciplinary Area (CDA) in Competitive Strategy at Columbia Business School is an open research and pedagogical community which spans academic divisions. Anchored in psychology, organizational sociology, and economics, the Competitive Strategy CDA involves the participation of faculty members in operations, finance, marketing, and other functional areas who are interested in the study of the integrated strategy of a firm.

Strategy defines the long-term goals of a firm or organization and the set of actions that people undertake to attain these goals. A popular metaphor used in strategy is military planning that takes into account not only the relative resources, but also the beliefs and goals held by each enemy and ally.  Unlike tactical choices, which can be made in isolation, strategic decisions are those for which outcomes depend on the actions and reactions of other economic actors.

Since strategy involves tradeoffs, knowledge of objectives, and required compromises is paramount.  For the business firm and organization, the formulation of a strategy involves the coherent integration of resources, capabilities, and markets.  Ideally, this represents an analytical understanding of the complementary ties among these three elements.  Because this analysis is complex, and the actual formation and implementation complicated by issues of design and incentive compatibility, strategy relies on analytical tools or heuristics to simplify issues.

These tools and frameworks are deceptively simple.  Each relies on a particular theory of competition and hence requires a thorough understanding of underlying assumptions.

Like all theories, sometimes the theory fits the facts and other times not. Thus, an important part of strategy is the accumulation of empirical knowledge about industries, firms, and organizations that tests existing theory and also suggests its limitations. Strategy is always a discussion between theory or value proposition and the empirical facts that are known or must be discovered and then understood.