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Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life (Norton Paperback) Paperback – April 17, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Most books on game theory either focus on specialized applications (cardplaying, business, nuclear war) or bore with mathematics and jargon. Free of formulas and argot, this refreshing exception distills the principles, concepts, tools and techniques--brinkmanship, bargaining, unconditional moves, vicious circles, etc.--with an astonishing diversity of illustrative examples drawn from political campaigns, baseball, neighborhood dynamics of segregation, the military draft, speed limits, childrearing and so forth. In helping strategists anticipate rivals' responses and win the game, economics professors Dixit and Nalebuff (who teach game theory at Princeton and Yale, respectively) provide managers, negotiators, athletes, parents and other game-players with a formidable weapon. Drawings. BOMC, Fortune Book Club and QPB selections.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A fascinating new book that can be read with real pleasure.... The problem is, of course, that if Dixit and Nalebuff can improve your strategic IQ, they can improve your competitor's as well and the Japanese rights were sold months ago. --David Warsh

Machiavelli is brought up-to-date in this book by Dixit and Nalebuff. They make strategic tools humorous, human, and effective. --Elizabeth Bailey, former dean, Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University

I confess that I have never thought of monetary policy or government as a game, but Professors Dixit and Nalebuff succeed brilliantly in clarifying questions we all face in decision-making, elevated or mundane. --Paul A. Volcker

Thinking Strategically gives you the vital components for good and effective negotiating. --Bob Woolf, author of Friendly Persuasion

To be literate in the modern age, you need to have a general understanding of game theory. Dixit and Nalebuff provide the skeleton key. You'll benefit from Thinking Strategically and enjoy the book. --Paul Samuelson

A fascinating new book that can be read with real pleasure.... The problem is, of course, that if Dixit and Nalebuff can improve your strategic IQ, they can improve your competitor's as well. --David Warsh

To be literate in the modern age, you need to have a general understanding of game theory. Dixit and Nalebuff provide the skeleton key. You'll benefit from Thinking Strategically and enjoy the book. --Paul Samuelson

A gem of a book. It makes some important insights on the frontiers of economics and game theory easily accessible, tremendously enjoyable, and practically useful. --Buron G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street"

Dixit and Nalebuff set out sure-fire rules for thinking about strategy. --David Henderson"

Machiavelli is brought up-to-date in this book by Dixit and Nalebuff. They make strategic tools humorous, human, and effective. --Elizabeth Bailey, former dean, Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University"

I confess that I have never thought of monetary policy or government as a game, but Professors Dixit and Nalebuff succeed brilliantly in clarifying questions we all face in decision-making, elevated or mundane. --Paul A. Volcker"

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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Paperback
  • Paperback: 393 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (April 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393310353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393310351
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Larry, Mo and Curly have undertaken a three-way duel. There will be two rounds. In the first round, each player gets one shot - first Larry, then Mo, then Curly. At the end of the first round, each survivor gets a second shot, in the same order. Larry is a poor shot, with a 30 percent success rate. Mo is better: he hits 50 percent. Curly never misses.
What should Larry do? The answer is that he should shoot into the air. By wasting his shot, he maximizes his chances of survival. Such is the analysis of the authors of this remarkable introduction to game theory.
One virtue of this book is its geniality: For Dixit and Nalebuff, game theory is full of anecdote and surprise, and they give you the sense that they like nothing better than to share their enthusiasm with others. (Geniality footnote: I probbly shouldn't noise this around, but one day I ran into a problem with an equation in a (different) Dixit book. I sent him an email; I got a response in an hour). A tradeoff for geniality is that they pay a price in structure: to get a coherent framework - even for some of their own best stories - you may have to go elsewhere (Professor Rappaport's textbook may be a good second choice). But it is hard to find any book that does better at conveying a sense of the excitement and challenge of game theory as a discipline).
Comparison shopper's note: I've used this in working with law students. Game Theory for Lawyers, by Baird, Gertner and Jackson, might seem closer on point. But it lacks those little four-block boxes that are a staple of game theory instruction, and for a beginner is bound to be pretty impenetrable without them.
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Format: Paperback
CONTENTS: Professors Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff begin the book with explanation of sequential-move games governed by the principle `look ahead and reason back'. Then simultaneous-move games are introduced by means of prisoners' dilemma, the situation when by playing their dominant strategies (thus theoretically maximizing their payoff) both sides get the outcome that is jointly worse than if they followed the strategies of minimizing their payoff. The paradox lies in interdependency of sides' outcomes. To resolve the problem the competitors have to cooperate i.e. follow their less desired strategies. Temptation to brake rules unilaterally is very strong, to make it worse you cannot control your opponent's move in the game. The rule `look ahead and reason back' does not work either. But one can manage this.
To tackle the problem strategists transform simultaneous-move games into sequential-move games. That is where the notion of strategic move comes into play. Strategic move is an action designed to alter beliefs and actions of others in a direction favorable to yourself. Strategic move will purposely limit your freedom but in return it will limit your opponent's freedom. Threats and promises are examples of strategic moves that are widely used. Another example of strategic move explained in the book, brinkmanship, consists in creating and maintaining risk of mutually bad outcome. Unlike the compelling threat, brinkmanship does not secure bad outcome, it does not even tell when it may occur. It is left to your opponent to guess at any point in the game if you are on the brink of disaster. By defying yourself an opportunity to influence the situation and making your opponent understand that he is the only capable to resolve the conflict you induce him to compromise.
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By giving extensive examples from real business strategy, Dixit and Nalebuff have created and amzing book on Game Theory for the layman (and MBAs, for that matter).
What I like about the book is that they introduce a new way of looking at strategy by using elements of Game Theory. I particluarly like the many examples where on first sight what looks like a good case for a new business falls flat (and bleeds a lot of money) because the competitive actions of other players are not taken into account.
Nalebuff wrote another book called "Co-Opetition", but I like this one much better. That said, an interested person would still have to learn a lot about game theory and strategy in order to try to avoid some of the mistakes highlighted in this book!
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Format: Paperback
My college professor used this as one of the books for our game theory course. I was instantly taken by the book. It applied the most common game theory examples to very ordinary circumstances.

For example, it explains that a baseball pitcher does not always want to throw his #1 pitch in a key situation -- there's a percentage of times that he wants to throw it and the book explains how to get that percentage.

It also explains how to outline the various outcomes, think backward and use that to achieve the outcome that you desire.

This is not an academic book, but it teaches. If you're looking for serious acadmic work, you'd do better to look to James Buchanan or Mancur Olson. For the average reader, though, this book is outstanding.
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Format: Paperback
This is my first contact with game theory reading, and i enjoy it very much. It is a required reading at University of Chicago Executive MBA program, Competitive Strategy course.
The content is quiet condense and within everybody's grasp. There is not much mathematical stuff inside, which is good ;-).
It is true that there is much simplification in any game theory, but up to know that is the best possible explaination into the real world, there is no other way to understand the things better. It you are like me, with no prior economic academic background, this book is an eye openner. I enjoy reading it very much. Most of you will.
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