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Making a Blue Ocean Strategic Move that Discourages Imitation

Author(s): KIM, W. Chan, MAUBORGNE, Renée, LING, Katrina

This case illustrates how the alignment of value, profit, and people propositions around both differentiation and low cost makes a blue ocean strategic move very difficult to imitate.

Using the strategic move of Wikipedia, this case examines the three strategy propositions for the online encyclopedia industry and how key factors from one proposition can support and reinforce the other two propositions. This case demonstrates how strategy is more than creating value for customers, it should create value for buyers (both customers and noncustomers), profit for the company, and motivate its people (staff, business partners, and the general public) to embrace and execute the new strategy with enthusiasm and commitment. If the value and profit propositions are strong but the people proposition does not motivate the organization to move forward with focus and commitment, it will result in execution failure. Alternatively, if the people proposition is powerful but the value and profit propositions are weak, the company’s performance will be lacklustre due to formulation failure.

The case comes with a four-part theory-based video. The first part of the video case provides an overview of the online encyclopedia industry, from the first printed edition of Encyclopedia Britannica to Microsoft’s failed attempt to sustain its offering. Then, the video case explores each of the value, profit, and people propositions of the online encyclopedia industry through interviews with key players including the founder, executive director, staff, and volunteers of Wikipedia, otherwise known as Wikipedians. In combination with the video case, the instructor can use the accompanying lecture slides to lead an engaging class discussion that is excellent for both MBAs and executives. The case also comes with a comprehensive teaching note that includes answer keys and strategy canvas templates for class discussion.

Case Study
Teaching Note
Video & Lecture Slides