Real Win-Win In Business?

There is no doubt that competition and cooperation exist in every field in society, including in business. There is also a taken-for-granted saying that cooperation should be the final place where competition goes. But it’s really true? Can the perfect win-win situation come true in the business world?

One of the interesting points that Berg’s reading “competition and cooperation the wisdom to know when” is the type of writing. Differ from those readings we have seen so far, this paper is organized based on one experiment, called “The Red-Blue Exercise” (Garcia used experiments as well, but I think he analyzed those variables with different tests). To some extent, the data of the exercise gave us a direct sense of reality, but on the other hand, it’s hard to avoid the limitation, which means that the scale of participants, the location of the test and others specific factors will affect the accuracy of the argument building on this experiment.

Firstly, many people pursue complete fairness in the business competition. Obviously, nowadays we keep constructing and improving the institutions and organizations for fairness, and theoretically, those actions provide people with a fairer environment. However, only these are not enough, and the nature of unfairness is related to the distribution of resources, because of the scarcity of resources, which means things everyone gets are inadequate, how many each one can get decide whether a competition will happen or not. For example, if someone gets more than me, I feel that she will take advantage over me. As the gap between us increases, I am probably afraid of the attack from her. To prevent that, although we can get win-win outcome through cooperation, I have to oppose and destroy you in advance for any potential risk.

Above all are the biggest obstacle to have a sincere and solid trust relationship. Even if we know that Fukuyama said, trust is the necessary access to achieve success in the business operation (1995) and we clearly understand about the importance of trust and we pretend to trust others so that we can cooperate with each other for a “perfect” ending. But the reality is, most of the time we will stop on the halfway, and we will find that it is rarely possible to have two winners in one competition or cooperation.

Why there can be two winners in one competition? Actually, when businessmen consider shifting competition to cooperation, there will have two situations. The first one is to cooperate with the one which has the same status to them. For this specific situation, two participants have excellent abilities to catch the customers. That’s true that the cooperation likely to expand the proportion they gain of the market, and they can share the achievement equally. Do not forget that the manufacturers now own the same resources in society, and one of them may prefer to focus on improving themselves by competing with the other one in order to take advantages in their production. As a result, the outcomes it gets by competition probably are profitable than the equal shared parts by cooperation. What’s more, in the business context, this ending is just a tie, which is different from the commercial definition of win, meaning fight down your opponent(AMA. Win-Win Is for Losers). Now we pay attention to the second type of cooperation-work with the one which is stronger or weaker than you. It seems to avoid the circumstance of the first one, but a new conflict comes out. Profit would be a central idea in the business world. When there one side in an inferior position, the unfairness or the betrayal is rooted in the cooperate relationship. Initially, one side becomes a role like a leader, so the other side will follow the leader within the cooperation. The inferior one will find a chance to reduce the advantage of the leader, because of the feeling of injustice, on the other hand, the leader will crack down its follower to keep its superiority. As Alice mentioned in her reading(The Invisible Hand—-Reading Response for “Competition and Cooperation: The Wisdom to Know When”), “the “Invisible Hand” makes people treat others as strangers and cooperation is no longer a must to help us survive.”  Therefore, the pursuit for profit in a fierce commercial competition shapes a circulation of competition instead of cooperation.

In conclusion, even if people know the prisoner’s dilemma, it seems to achieve cooperation in the business field. From another perspective, we can understand how real and profit-oriented the competition is, so the noncooperation is reasonable, even sometimes it is irrational. However, it deeply conflicts with people’s best wishes which win-win situation can maximize the outcome. What can we do to guide this irrational competition and advocate merchants to see in a long-term vision?



AMA” Win-Win Is for Losers” (


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