Master Student Study Techniques for Competition Demystified


Practice becoming an expert student so you can truly master the material.

The questions below are ones that YOU should ask and then answer without looking at the text again. If you read a page or a segment of the book, stop, then write down or record verbally your answers or explanation of what you just read. Then after you complete the chapter review again what you have learned–give a mini lecture on the chapter in your OWN WORDS. You need to answer in your own words not look up and repeat the text.

These questions for chapters 1-3 are the type you should ask as you read. The questions cover the first 51 pages, but you need to study up to Chapter 5 to complete the WMT Case Study.

Wal-Mart Case Study (in Value Vault, email

You need to show in WMT’s financial statements, where is the source of  competitive advantage.  How do you know WMT has a competitive advantage and exactly what is WMT’s competitive advantage? Please show your analysis.

Questions about Competition Demystified
By Bruce Greenwald and Judd Kahn

These questions are intended to help you test your understanding of the book.

Chapter 1: Strategy, Markets and Competition
1. What are the differences between strategy and tactics?
2. What is the most valuable resource in any business?
3. What is the most important feature of the competitive landscape in which a business operates? (hint: one of Porter’s five forces)
4. What are the three sources of competitive advantages?
5. If your success is based on your ability to dominate a local market, how can you grow and still maintain high levels of profitability?

Chapter 2: Competitive Advantages I: Supply and Demand
6. Is product differentiation a means to high profitability?
7. Can product differentiation create strategic opportunity? Why or why not?
8. Is efficiency easier for differentiated products than commodity products?
9. What is the strongest barrier to entry? Why?
10. What is customer captivity and what are the three sources of customer captivity?

Chapter 3: Competitive Advantages II: Economies of Scale and Strategy
11. When we talk about the “size” of economies of scale, what are some of the ways of thinking about this? Explain the interaction of economies of scale and customer captivity: in manufacturing, in advertising & marketing, in distribution.
12. What economic conditions create the potential for economies of scale advantages?
13. If a crucial ingredient for competitive advantage is customer captivity, what are five tactics for intensifying customer captivity?
14. Why is Coca Cola one of the most valuable brands in the world? Why is Mercedes-Benz not?


To learn more about study habits:

Why does this technique work? Because of this inescapable fact: If you can’t put something in your own words, then you don’t really understand it. Simple, isn’t it? I think most people don’t want to face the fact that they don’t understand things. They don’t want to be reminded. — Gary North.

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