Note on Competitive Dynamics and the Game of Go

14 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2019 Last revised: 26 Oct 2019

See all articles by L. J. III Bourgeois

L. J. III Bourgeois

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Serge Eygenson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Kanokrat Namasondhi

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

Go (or Wei-ch'i, as it is known in China) is a centuries-old board game popular across Asia. Many have drawn parallels between military successes and the game's complex methods, in which a player encircles, isolates, and captures enemy pieces and geography, but Go also offers lessons for business.This technical note offers a basic description of Go, followed by a collection of business-strategy anecdotes punctuated by comparisons to Go strategies and quotes from Sun Tzu.

Excerpt

UVA-S-0313

Rev. Oct. 11, 2019

Note on Competitive Dynamics and the Game of Go

Chengdu, China, December 1949

The Communist troops were pouring over the horizon as General Chiang Kai-shek watched Mao Zedong's army breach the perimeter of Chengdu, the last stronghold of Chiang's Kuomintang (KMT) party. Months before, Mao had surrounded Nanking, the Nationalist capital in the east; then he surrounded Canton in the south, followed by Chonqing in the west; and, now, Chiang's last central China strongholds in Sichang and then Chengdu. Chiang had been far better resourced at the outset of the conflict, but now his troops were exhausted, his resources were drained, and all avenues of escape were closed off. On December 10, 1949, Chiang retreated from China and crossed the Formosa Strait to the island of Taiwan, essentially capitulating after the long civil war. With most of China's territory now held by his People's Liberation Army (PLA), Mao declared victory and established in Beijing the government of the newly formed People's Republic of China.

The decisive victory of the PLA derived from a number of factors, including global geopolitical forces in the post–World War II era, widespread corruption within the KMT's leadership, and broad social unrest caused by China's economic stagnation throughout the mid-1940s. Yet military historians are also quick to underscore that Mao's strategic decision-making, and the effective execution of that strategy by the highly unified and well-organized PLA, played a decisive role in defeating the uncoordinated efforts of the independent armies that made up Chiang's KMT.

. . .

Keywords: Go, games, business strategy, competition, chess, Eastern philosophy, IBM, steel production, airlines, construction, China, Japan, fashion, banking, heavy equipment

Suggested Citation

Bourgeois, L. J. III and Eygenson, Serge and Namasondhi, Kanokrat, Note on Competitive Dynamics and the Game of Go. Darden Case No. UVA-S-0313. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3468750

L. J. III Bourgeois

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Serge Eygenson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Kanokrat Namasondhi

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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