Zero-sum games of Competition Reading response of WerronT-2015-WhyDoWeBelieveInCompetition-Distinktion by Flo

ethics concept of business boss lying an employee

After reading the whole article, what attracts me most is that it doesn’t focus on how to solve the problem as regular essays but try to lead the readers to find open questions, by introducing the definition, development and comparison of ‘competition’. In my reading response, I intend to pay more attention to the concept of ‘zero-sum games’( one of the key words of this article).

    According to the definition of ‘zero-sum game’, we know that each participant’s gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participants. However, Werron gives us two counter-examples. First one: students struggle for good grades who don’t necessarily compete as long as one student’s good grades do not come at the expense of others good grades. Second one: Christian delivers who strive for salvation and envy each other for their good deeds may enter some sort of rivalry, but they do not actually compete, because of God’s goodwill.These two counter examples show that in special environment, the zero-sum game will not happen.Besides, nowadays, we always support non-zero-sum games.Based on the fact, I want to ask ‘ whether transferring  zero-sum game into win-win is necessary?’. I will state some positive answers following.

     First, the cost of zero-sum model is high. As freeman notes, countries often engage in persuasive diplomacy, rather than coercion or the use of force, as the cheapest means of using their power to address strategic interests.Compared with the use of force and war, the cost of political, economic and diplomatic means is relatively low

     Second, both sides may not be able to achieve the result of zero-sum game, but get loss at both sides.Instead of losing both sides, it is better to choose a peaceful outcome that benefits both sides. This can be regarded as a win-win model in the lowest sense

   What’s more, the consequences of choosing a zero-sum game model may go far beyond the scope of both players. For example, the effect of second world war is not only restricted to soldiers and weapons but also every aspect of our life.

   Last but not least, the emergence of the global information network, which greatly increase the scope of information transfer and channels, reduce the information asymmetry among strategic subjects and promote non-zero-sum to become the first option. More importantly, with the development of globalization, the interdependence among various strategic forces of various countries is deepening.The increasing number of global coordination mechanisms, the peace coordination mechanism of the United Nations, the trade coordination mechanism of the WTO and the coordination mechanisms among various international and regional organizations make the non-zero-sum game the primary choice of strategic competitors.

   From my point of view, non-zero-sum game has become a trend which is beneficial for both competitors and the whole society.

   As Werron mentioned: the scope of competition has been extended to the whole society, not mainly restricted to economy area as 19 century. We have to pay enough attention to the construction of competition and figure out the future trend( including but not limited to non-zero-games).



  1. You state non-zero-sum games are becoming increasingly the strategy among networks, nations, and organizations. Do you think that the role of zero-sum games can be incentive’s between these organizations for innovation?


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