Myth of Market Share

In: Business and Management

Competitor-oriented Objectives: The Myth of Market Share J. Scott Armstrong, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104 E-mail: Phone 610-622-6480; Fax 215-898-2534 Kesten C. Green, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics Monash University, VIC 3800, Australia E-mail: Phone +64 4 976 3243; Fax +64 4 473 0643 February 21, 2006 IJB05CmObj27.doc International Journal of Business (forthcoming)

Abstract Competitor-oriented objectives, such as market-share targets, are promoted by academics and are commonly used by firms. A 1996 review of the evidence, summarized in this paper, indicated that competitor-oriented objectives reduce profitability. However, we found that this evidence has been ignored by managers. We then describe evidence from 12 new studies, one of which is introduced in this paper. This evidence supports the conclusion that competitor-oriented objectives are harmful, especially when managers receive information about market shares of competitors. Unfortunately, we expect that many firms will continue to use competitor-oriented objectives to the detriment of their profitability.

Key words: competition, market share, objectives, profitability. JEL CLASSIFICATION: L21, M21, M31.


Many managers have a natural inclination to want to beat their competitors. Our concern in this paper is the relationship between competitor orientation and performance. We show that competitor-oriented objectives are detrimental to firms’ profitability and that the use of information and decision aids to support such an orientation exacerbates the harm. The pursuit of competitor-oriented objectives is consistent with the long-held belief that business is like warfare. In the late 19th century, it was popular for executives to strive for revenue maximization. To see how well they...

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