Competitive strategy and industrial structures with Chaim Fershtman

February 12, 2014

And finally I have reached the last part of this Sasin MBA: quarter 3.2. At this point I only had one more subject to pick and after sitting in for several different classes I decided that competitive strategy and industrial structures could be of some help in the future. This course can best be seen as a little bit of macroeconomics and microeconomics combined with a lot of game theory, and according to the professor we play games all the time all our lives. Do not take this too literary by thinking of board games or computer games: even in every relationship or at work you try to give signals to influence others to reach the most optimal outcome.

A bit of microeconomics, a bit of macroeconomics, and a whole lot of game theory.

A bit of microeconomics, a bit of macroeconomics, and a whole lot of game theory.

Unfortunately the political unrest in Thailand, and Bangkok in particular, made it hard to actually reach Sasin on a daily basis. Many students therefore chose to go with the alternative which was offered for this module: logging in from home with WebEx. Everybody I spoke to who had logged in on WebEx shared the same experience: doing this class from home is rather cumbersome as it is sometimes hard to hear, you get easily distracted, it becomes very boring to stare at a screen, and it is almost impossible to participate.

The reader for this course filled with almost ancient case studies. But they did support the points the professor was making very well.

The reader for this course filled with almost ancient case studies. But they did support the points the professor was making very well.

The course was partly based on case studies, but unlike previous classes the cases were rather dated. In one case we discussed how Nintendo controlled the 8-bit game-console market and I couldn’t stop wondering how many people in class actually had an idea what a Nintendo 8-bit game-console is. Luckily the quality of the cases was relatively good and according to the professor these cases were valuable because they perfectly underlined the points he was trying to make in class.

An example of a very old case study talking about something that has only 8-bits. Is this serious? Only 8-bits? And people bought that?

An example of a very old case study talking about something that has only 8-bits. Is this serious? Only 8-bits? And people bought that?

Besides case discussions and normal lectures we also had some moments where small games were played in-class to see how people acted in real-life. Unfortunately it seemed hard for many students to completely understand the rules of games we played resulting in some strange outcomes here and there but in general it resulted in some nice changes in pace in the teaching.

Professor Chaim Fershtman teaching at the Sasin MBA program in Bangkok.

Professor Chaim Fershtman teaching at the Sasin MBA program in Bangkok.

The grading for this course consisted of just 3 parts: 20% of the grade was based on classroom participation, 30% on a final presentation where we had to apply the material of this course on a sector of choice in Thailand, and 50% came from an exam. The exam was sold to us as multiple-choice but it was closer a list of statements which could be either true or false. In my view knowing if a statement is true or false is not so interesting for a course like this since it all depend on how you explain it and if you are able to think several steps further. But on the other hand I can understand that this is much easier to grade for the professor.

An excellent in-depth analysis on how the 5-star hotel market in Bangkok operates. With as nice twist an analysis of how the current protests influence their pricing strategies.

An excellent in-depth analysis on how the 5-star hotel market in Bangkok operates. With as nice twist an analysis of how the current protests influence their pricing strategies.

This was the final course of my MBA and I am unofficially done at Sasin now. Many of my classmates are still abroad on an exchange program while others already ended earlier: the next time everybody will be together again must be at our graduation I suppose.

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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