Academic Articles

As Blue Ocean Strategy is taught in over 2,800 universities around the world, it’s not surprising that it is the subject of a lot of academic articles. New ones are appearing all the time, covering just about every industry you can think of. Discover the rich and varied research related to Blue Ocean Strategy.

16Dec '16

Making Sense of (Ultra) Low-Cost Flights Vertical Differentiation in Two-Sided Markets

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

Theme:  Creating a blue ocean of low-cost air travel by exploiting two-sided pricing of air travel and destination shopping/consumption markets Summary: This paper examines and rationalizes the business model of Ryanair and proposes that on top of the regular practice of pursuing cost containment and quality enhancement, the unique success of Ryanair has been built on a third pillar, i.e., the active exploitation of the network externalities inherent in moving people across markets. By this, the authors mean that Ryanair uses its air travel service to bring potential buyers closer to potential sellers in the destination market and price both sides of the markets in a way to allow itself to cross-subsidize its air travel customers, thereby unlocking substantial new demand for its service. The authors argue that Ryanair has carried out a classical blue ocean strategy in the sense that its strategy enlarges the pie of air travel rather than merely grabbing a large slice of the existing market by making air travel possible to a large share of low-to-mid income consumers for whom traditional flights were not affordable. Reference: Serio, Luigi, Piero Tedeschi, and Giovanni Ursino, “Making Sense of (Ultra) Low-Cost Flights Vertical Differentiation in Two-Sided Markets” In Management Science, Articles in Advance, pp. 1-21, 2016.
01Oct '12

A Critical Analysis on the Blue Ocean Strategy and an Approach for Its Integration into…

Product: Management and Development

Theme: Exploration of possible integration of Blue Ocean Strategy into the Product Development Process.

Summary: This study discusses blue ocean strategy in the context of the Strategic Planning Process (SPP) and the Product Development Process (PDP) and explores the possibility of integrating the BOS into the PDP. Based on literature review in the relevant academic areas and field surveys and interviews, the authors propose that blue ocean strategy can be mapped into the SPP context and can fit into the early stage of the PDP by providing new product ideas that can be called strategic initiatives. The authors further observe that additional procedures need to be developed in order to capture and manage those ideas in the PDP.

Reference: Kampa, Josmael Roberto, C. Cziulik, and C. C. Estorilio Amodio. “A Critical Analysis on the Blue Ocean Strategy and an Approach for Its Integration into the Product Development Process.” Product: Management and Development 10 (2012): 79-86.
02Oct '13

The Blue Ocean that Disappeared – The Case of Nintendo Wii

Journal of Business Strategy

Theme: Exploration of the dynamic process of blue ocean creations based on a single case study of Nintendo Wii.

Summary: This paper aims to understand the underlying dynamics of strategies in the form of interactions between theory and management practices by examining the successive strategic moves of Nintendo in the video gaming industry. The study shows that Nintendo launched Wii with a blue ocean strategy and was able to expand its blue ocean with Nintendo Fit. However, as major competitors Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox 360 reacted with the launches of technologically innovative products, Nintendo launched Wii U as a response, which, according to the author, signaled a movement back towards the red ocean of hardcore gaming market. The study illustrates that blue ocean strategy cannot be a static process and that it is necessary for Nintendo to create a dynamic strategy in order to stay in the blue ocean and keep it from being turned into a red ocean.

Reference: Hollensen, Svend. “The Blue Ocean that Disappeared – The Case of Nintendo Wii.” Journal of Business Strategy 34 (2013): 25-35.
01Mar '13

Searching for Blue Oceans: Mental Representation and the Discovery of New Strategies

Social Science Research Network, Working Paper Series

Theme: An effort to bridge the two academic traditions of organizational search and mental representation by developing a simulation of blue ocean strategy.

Summary: In this paper the authors argue that strategic decision making in practice involves a dual search process, i.e., the search for policies following a trial and error process as described by the Carnegie School, and the search for the right mental representation which allows actors to consider the merit of alternative strategies without the need to actually invest in and carry out alternative options. As the strategy literature has been mostly silent about how mental representation and search interact, the authors set out to study under what conditions it is better to emphasize searching for the right policies rather than searching for the right mental representation, and vice versa. The authors see blue ocean strategy as a mental representation used by managers in strategy search and develop a simulation to explore under what conditions BOS is more likely to be successful and how much risks firms incur by using BOS. The study concludes that the balance between the above-mentioned two types of search process is contingent upon the cognitive capacity of managers and environmental factors.

Reference: Csaszar, Felipe A., and Daniel A. Levinthal. “Searching for Blue Oceans: Mental Representation and the Discovery of New Strategies.” In Social Science Research Network, Working Paper Series. 2013
01Jun '13

Supporting Product Design by Anticipating the Success Chances of New Value Profiles

Computers in Industry

Theme: Development of a model for anticipating the market value of a product partially based on the logic of the Four Actions Framework of blue ocean strategy.

Summary: This study proposes a tool called “Value Assessment Metrics (VAMs)” for the anticipatory assessment of the expected market appraisal of a new product profile. The authors note that a systematic and structured approach is needed to define new market opportunities and reduce the market and technological uncertainties that characterize the process of new product development. Based on the combined analysis of 92 case studies equally distributed among success stories and market flops, the authors propose a model for predicting success chances of new product designs on the basis of the pursued product development strategies. In this course the authors use the Four Actions Frameworks of blue ocean strategy as an underlying scheme for classifying product/service characteristics. The authors then discuss two alternative metrics for the VAMs, based on the methods of Logistic Regression and Neural Networks respectively, and present a preliminary validation of the approach and two examples of the metrics’ application.

Reference: Borgianni, Yuri, et al. “Supporting Product Design by Anticipating the Success Chances of New Value Profiles.” Computers in Industry 64 (2013): 421-435.
01Sep '14

A Blue Ocean Strategy Analysis of IMAX’s Move to Go Hollywood

Journal of International Management Studies

Theme: A blue ocean strategy explanation of the IMAX Move to Hollywood.

Summary: This paper examines the move of IMAX from the educational films market to the Hollywood movie market and evaluate it against the frameworks of blue ocean strategy to determine whether the move was a blue ocean one. The author observes that the growth and development of alternative forms of entertainment such as computer games and home entertainment systems created a change in market dynamics and drew audience away from educational entertainment such as museum and zoos, which IMAX had originally targeted. Instead of staying in the dwindling “edutainment” market as a niche player, IMAX made a conscientious move to enter the Hollywood movie market. The author makes an effort to interpret this move using BOS frameworks and tools such as the Six Paths Framework, ERRC Framework and the strategy canvas and concludes that with this strategic move IMAX did create a blue ocean with satisfactory market and financial results.

Reference: Becker, Hilary M. “A Blue Ocean Strategy Analysis of IMAX’s Move to Go Hollywood.” In Journal of International Management Studies 14 no.2 (2014): 53-60.
01Jun '10

Schumpeter and the Blue Ocean Strategy

Revista de la Maestria en Derecho Economico

Theme: Theoretical synthesis of blue ocean strategy and Schumpeterian strategy with empirical evidence based on quantitative data at firm and sector levels.

Summary: This study seeks to integrate blue ocean strategy and Schumpeter’s theory of strategy in explaining growth of firms and sectors. The authors propose that there is a theoretical affinity between the major theses of blue ocean strategy and those proposed by Schumpeter with regard to the sources of growth. Based on the Baumol model of innovation, the authors first present a graphical interpretation of the blue ocean-red ocean dichotomy and then use quantitative data from the AMS DANE database concerning 8,000 firms over a period of 12 years in Colombia to support this theoretical depiction. The authors conclude that blue ocean strategy is a useful guide for helping entrepreneurs achieve dynamic innovation, which, together with factors related to economy of scale and reorganization through take-over and fusions, contribute to growth at the company and sector level.

Reference: Ter Wengel, Jan, et al. “Schumpeter and the Blue Ocean Strategy.” Revista de la Maestria en Derecho Economico 6 (January-December 2010): 53-85.
16Oct '13

Applying Blue Ocean Strategy to Game Design: A Path to Innovation

SBC-Proceedings of SBGames

Theme: Application of blue ocean strategy to the conceptualization of games.

Summary: This paper applies blue ocean strategy to the process of game design. The authors argue that conceptualization is a crucial stage in game design, which should be based on a proper game market analysis, pending which the game may fail to create new market space. They in turn propose a process that brings together blue ocean strategy and a technique called Personas to assist the concept design stage. In particular, this process uses the BOS tool of strategy canvas to assess the state of existing products and propose and select new game titles. The authors cite two case examples – “Fruits Inc.” and “Boney the Runner” to illustrate this blue ocean strategy-based game design process.

Reference: Barrios, Gabriella A. B., et al. “Applying Blue Ocean Strategy to Game Design: A Path to Innovation.” In SBC-Proceedings of SBGames. Brazil, October 16-18, 2013.
16Jul '12

A Fuzzy Expert System for Evaluating Value Innovation in Social Computing Platforms Based on Blue…

ICOMP 2012 Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Theme: Empirical assessment of the level of value innovation in Social Computing Platforms

Summary: This study aims to assess the level of value innovation in the social computing area. The authors observe that as competition becomes increasingly intense in the online social networking business, value innovation is imperative in order for social computing platforms to stand out and succeed. The authors propose an anticipatory model for evaluating the level of value innovation in the business ideas of social computing platforms and apply it to a single case, an emerging social computing platform called WBB. The model uses BOS’ four actions of “Eliminate”, “Reduce”, “Raise” and “Create” as input variables and the level of value innovation as the output variable. To measure the input variables, the authors use expert opinions, which are qualitative and linguistic by nature, and treat them with an inference method called Fuzzy Expert System to derive the precise value of the variables and to evaluate the level of value innovation in the business idea under study.

Reference:Golasteh, Pouria, et al. “A Fuzzy Expert System for Evaluating Value Innovation in Social Computing Platforms Based on Blue Ocean Strategy,” ICOMP 2012 Conference. Las Vegas, NV, July 16 -19, 2012.
01May '06

The Bluest Ocean Strategy for Emerging ICT Business

Boston University, Research Report

Theme: A research project aiming to complement blue ocean strategy with a real options framework to mitigate uncertainty and maximize value of blue oceans.

Summary: This research project seeks to combine a blue ocean strategy analysis with a real options framework to help companies design strategies for unchartered and uncertain markets. The authors propose that the real-options framework may be complementary to blue ocean strategy in that it is effective in managing uncertainty inherent in blue oceans. The combined approach is intended to focus on areas of greatest uncertainty and suggest strategies that encourage experimentation in these highly uncertain regions, thus maximizing the long term expected value of blue ocean strategy and helping find blue oceans. The project examines emerging ICT (Information Communications Technology) businesses such as VoIP, and RFID/Sensors to explore how the proposed combined approach can help organizations maximize value of blue oceans.

Reference: LeeHo Lee, and M. Gaynor. “The Bluest Ocean Strategy for Emerging ICT Business.” Boston University, Research Report, May 2006.
03May '11

Blue Ocean Strategy: A Preliminary Literature Review and Research Questions Arising

Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences

Theme: Meta-analysis of literature on strategy identifying Blue Ocean Strategy as an emerging theme warranting future research and analysis.

Summary: Based on a meta-analysis of academic literature on strategy, the authors identify blue ocean strategy as an emerging theme that warrants further research and analysis both in terms of theoretical underpinnings as well as practical applicability. They propose a particular direction for future research: to develop an analytical and quantitative approach for identifying the factors of competition on the strategy canvas and also formulate a series of research questions to test both the formulation and execution of blue ocean strategies.

Reference: Ng, Alex H., H.C.D. Lau, W.K. Wan Ismail. “Blue Ocean Strategy: A Preliminary Literature Review and Research Questions Arising.” Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences 5 (2011): 86-91.
06Jun '07

What Does Your Most Important Customer Want?

Research Technology Management

Theme: Design and implementation of a custom-designed innovation process based on blue ocean strategy.

Summary: This paper documents a custom-designed value innovation process developed and implemented at Alcan Global Pharmaceutical Packaging. The process is based on blue ocean strategy principles and tools among others. The authors argue that it’s easy to say that success in innovation is a key driver of future growth and profitability, but it’s not so easy to accomplish that innovation. Companies that are value innovators redefine problems and frame them in terms of performance criteria that matter to customers. Based on these insights, the team at Alcan developed a 12-step customer-centric value innovation process that involves three distinct stages: exploratory investigation, focused investigation and solution development. The process involves accessing customer information to draw existing value curves that reflect the categories that are important for customers. New value curves are then drawn based on new understandings gained through stakeholder research. This involves analyzing current customers’ needs and the needs required to convert non-users for creating innovative solutions.

Reference: Goodrich, Nina, and L. Aiman-Smith. “What Does Your Most Important Customer Want?”Research Technology Management 50 (2007): 26-35.
01Jan '06

Brain Food

Making Waves

Theme: Role of blue ocean strategy in creating social enterprises.

Summary: This article looks into the concept of ‘social enterprises’, which the authors consider to be a ‘civilizing’ force in the economy, and suggests that the ‘Zamangi Triangle’ and blue ocean strategy are two such approaches that can create social enterprises. The Zamangi Triangle, named after Stefano Zamangi, rejects the notion of the invisible hand and attempts to build 3-way reciprocal relationships between government, industry and community (as points of a triangle in any given economic sector) to create well-being for the people and care for the environment. The authors argue that like Zamangi’s Triangle, blue ocean strategy challenges social entrepreneurs to break away from the competition for dwindling corporate and government resources and develop value driven and reciprocal approaches that offer benefit to the state and the industry as well as civil society. They note that companies within an industry ordinarily identify competitors in an existing market, and then claim a portion of that market through product differentiation or cost leadership. This ‘productionist’ paradigm orchestrates a continuous price war that excludes small operators and enables large operators to merge with any competitor strong enough to resist annihilation. The authors argue that blue ocean strategy enables industry participants to break free of competition and helps mobilize cross- sectoral relationships . They offer the example of Kauai Food Bank, an emergency food provider in Canada, that has created a blue ocean social enterprise by not depending on government grants but rather on diversified revenue sources including business activities.

Reference: Moreland, Frank, and M. Sandra. "Brain Food: How Social Enterprise Can Reshape the Food System." Making Waves 17 (2006): 40-43.
01Apr '09

Drawing on Students’ Evaluation to Draw a Strategy Canvas for a Business School

International Journal of Educational Management

Theme: Use of quantitative techniques for constructing a strategy canvas.

Summary: This paper shows how to construct a strategy canvas using information collected through survey instruments. The author illustrates how a survey can be designed to solicit active stakeholders’ views on critical value dimensions - as one way to gather field information for developing a blue ocean strategy. Using the case of a business school, he shows that student’s perceptions of the critical value dimensions for selecting which business school to attend, and comparable performance on each should be used for constructing a strategy canvas. This will allow for evaluating the school’s current strategy and in developing a new innovative one. The author uses survey research to solicit and measure student’s perceptions. By subjecting the collected data to rigorous statistical analysis, he draws conclusions, which are then used to construct the strategy canvas. The author argues that survey analysis possesses the necessary rigor for compiling valid and reliable information on the basis of which a strategy canvas should be constructed.

Reference: Khalifa, Azaddin S. “Drawing on Students’ Evaluation to Draw a Strategy Canvas for a Business School.” International Journal of Educational Management 23 (2009): 467-483.
01Jan '10

Innovation in Value in the Mexican Beef Industry: Strategies Followed by Market Leaders

Revista Mexicana De Ciencias Pecuaria

Theme: Analysis of the Mexican beef industry using blue ocean strategy frameworks.

Summary: This study employs blue ocean strategy as a framework of analysis to examine the beef industry in Mexico and draft policy recommendations. The authors select ten companies, belonging to recognized strategic groups, that are known to have distinguished themselves by redefining their products and services and creating new demand where none existed. They use the strategy canvas to assess offerings of these companies on nine factors that include corporate identity, degree of integration, quality factors, product range, food safety, certification, customer services, marketing and market diversification. The authors show that while most of these firms put a high focus on product quality, presentation and market diversification, what really sets these firms apart is how they integrate their production chain and the range of products offered. From a policy perspective, the authors propose that a focus on food safety procedures would be of particular benefit to the industry.

Reference: Palacios, Maria G.L., M.M. Rodriguez, J.A.L. Rodriguez, and F.C. Escoto. “Innovation in Value in the Mexican Beef Industry: Strategies Followed by Market Leaders.” Revista Mexicana De Ciencias Pecuaria 1 (2010): 417-432.
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