Nabil Al-Najjar, Northwestern University

Competitive Strategy and Industrial Structures

MBA and Executive MBA



I have been teaching a course with this title to MBA and Executive MBA classes since 2000. The course explores the economics of strategy with the aid of cases and vignettes.

Recently, the course evolved to include more substantial coverage of
New Economy strategy issues: platforms, network effects, long-tail, and switching costs.

I have also started incorporating decision-analytic methods like spreadsheet models and decision trees to examine the strategic challenges facing firms.


Case Studies I wrote in Competitive Strategy

Satellite Radio

  • The difficulties facing XM and Sirius circa 2006 in competing in difficult market conditions.
  • Themes: Natural monopoly markets, powerful content providers, long-tail demand with strong taste for variety.

The Erosion of Incumbency Advantage in Motorola’s Wireless Handset Market
  • Motorola’s decision in 1992 not to pursue the digital handset technology.
  • Themes: Incumbents’ incentives to pursue disruptive technological innovations, increasing returns, the replacement effect.

The U.S. Automotive Retailing Industry in the mid 1990’s
  • The opportunity to consolidate an industry with one trillion dollars in sales.
  • Themes: Economies of scale, consolidation, rationalization.

The U.S. Credit Card Industry
  • The sources of abnormal profitability in the credit card business.
  • Themes: The interaction between behavioral biases and competitive strategy.

Boeing vs. Airbus: Competitive Strategy in the Very-Large Aircraft Market
  • Managing competition in a winner-take-all market.
  • Themes: Natural monopoly, winner-take-all markets, strategic commitments, sunk cost.

Microsoft in Thailand
  • An incumbent’s dilemma in meeting a challenge in a marginal market.
  • Themes: Natural monopoly, network effects, strategic risk.