Essay prompt:

· Analyze how the increasing intensity of information technology investments, the digitization of business, and the big shifts in the U.S. economy have affected the competitive dynamics of Courier industry – FedEx.
For background on how the increasing intensity of information technology investments, the digitization of business, and the big shifts in the U.S. economy have affected competitive dynamics, please do the below readings. I have attached the articles.
· Hagel, J., Brown, J.S., and Davison, L. “The Big Shift: Measuring the Forces of Change,” Harvard Business Review (87:7-8), Jul-Aug 2009, pp 86-90.
· McAfee, A., and Brynjolfsson, E. “Investing in the IT that makes a competitive difference,” Harvard Business Review (86:7-8), Jul-Aug 2008, pp. 98-107.
· Govindrajan, V. & Srivastava, A. (2016). “Strategy When Creative Destruction Accelerates.” Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 2836135, Available at SSRN: to an external site.

Writing criteria:

1. How well does the essay build on course concepts covered in the reading above.
2. How well does the essay build on facts and evidence of the Courier industry in analyzing the essay prompt.

Essay format:

· Use a maximum of one, single-sided page (no more than 600 words), single-line spacing, 1″ margins on all sides, Verdana font type, and 10-point font size.International Business

The Big Shift: Measuring the
Forces of Change
by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison

From the Magazine (July–August 2009)

Summary.   Reprint: R0907Q Traditional metrics don’t capture many of the

challenges and opportunities in store for U.S. companies and the national

economy. The authors, from Deloitte, present a framework for understanding the

forces that have transformed business over…

During a steep recession, managers obsess over short-term

performance goals such as cost cutting, sales, and market share

growth. Meanwhile, economists chart data like GDP growth,

unemployment levels, and balance-of-trade shifts to gauge the

health of the overall business environment. The problem is,

focusing only on traditional metrics often masks long-term forces

of change that undercut normal sources of economic value.

“Normal” may in fact be a thing of the past: Even when the

economy heats up again, companies’ returns will remain under


One reason traditional measures alone don’t capture the

challenges and opportunities for U.S. companies and the national

economy is that the digital infrastructure supporting the lion’s

share of industries has sustained rapid performance

improvements—especially in computing power, bandwidth, and

storage. Previous infrastructures experienced sharp bursts of


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innovation in underlying technologies, such as the telephone and

the internal combustion engine, and then quickly stabilized.

Today, we do not yet see any signs of stabilization, which suggests

not only that competitive intensity (which has more than doubled

in the past 40 years) will continue to build but also that the digital

infrastructure will keep boosting the potential—and necessity—

for business innovation.

To help managers in this decidedly challenging time, we present a

framework for understanding three waves of transformation in

the competitive landscape: foundations for major change; flows of

resources, such as knowledge, that allow firms to enhance

productivity; and the impacts of the foundations and flows on

companies and the economy. Combined, those factors reflect

what we call the Big Shift in the global business environment.

The Shift Index

Executives can use the metrics here to gauge the long-

term forces shaping the business environment and

improve their …

Additionally, we have developed an index to measure the changes

that have had the biggest effect on business over the past four

decades (see the exhibit “The Shift Index”). That set of metrics

reveals a draElectronic copy available at:

Strategy When Creative Destruction Accelerates

Vijay Govindarajan

Coxe Distinguished Professor, Tuck School of Business and a Marvin Bower Fellow at Harvard

Business School

[email protected]

Anup Srivastava

Assistant Professor, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College,

[email protected]

Electronic copy available at:

Electronic copy available at:


Strategy When Creative Destruction Accelerates

Life is short. That’s never been more true for corporations today. An analysis of all 29,688 firms

that listed from 1960 through 2009, divided into 10-year cohorts, reveals that newly listed firms in

recent cohorts fail more frequently than did those in older ones (Figure 1). Creative destruction is

accelerating because there is a fundamental shift in the American economy. The pre-1970 firms

tended to be heavily invested in physical infrastructure, such as factories and inventories. Later

cohorts have relied increasingly on intangible assets, such as databases, proprietary algorithms,

and expert workers (Figure 2). This transformation is a double-edged sword. The good news is

that newer firms are more nimble. The bad news for these firms is that their days are numbered.

That is, unless they continuously innovate.

The newer firms are grounded in novel business models, like digital services, that can be launched

and distributed quickly. This gives them an advantage over production firms. “Idea” companies

don’t require an expensive infrastructure of factories, warehouses, and suppliers to operate. They

don’t need an extensive distribution network to get their product to market. They don’t need

elaborate marketing campaigns—news of successful products spreads rapidly through blogs and

social networks. Winners emerge quickly and reap rewards disproportionately larger than the

initial investments. Uber, for example, officially launched its mobile app in select U.S. cities in

2011 and within a year’s time had expanded into Europe. Now, its market cap exceeds $60 billion.

Contrast this with the evolution of the automotive industry. Around the beginning of the 20th

century, more than 200 companies sprang up in the U.S. to produce automobiles. It took almost

half a century for the number of large domestic automakers to shrink to four. Despite the

introduction of such disruptive technologies as the assembly line, integrated supply chains, and

lean manufacturing, the consolidation took 50 years. Innovations rooted in physical assets take

time to create. Even Silicon Valley automaker Tesla not only has invested in a capital-intensive

assembly plant in California, but also is building a Gigafactory in Nevada to produce lithium

batteries and a nationwide network of Superchargers for its electric cars. Tesla and other tangible

goods firms, many ofProcess Management

Investing in the IT That Makes
a Competitive Difference
by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

From the Magazine (July–August 2008)

Summary.   Reprint: R0807J Investments in certain technologies do confer a

competitive edge—one that has to be constantly renewed, as rivals don’t merely

match your moves but use technology to develop more potent ones and leapfrog

over you. That’s the conclusion of…

It’s not just you. It really is getting harder to outpace the other

guys. Our recent research finds that since the middle of the 1990s,

which marked the mainstream adoption of the internet and

commercial enterprise software, competition within the U.S.

economy has accelerated to unprecedented levels. There are a

number of possible reasons for this quickening, including M&A

activity, the opening up of global markets, and companies’

continuing R&D efforts. However, we found that a central catalyst

in this shift is the massive increase in the power of IT


To better understand when and where IT confers competitive

advantage in today’s economy, we studied all publicly traded U.S.

companies in all industries from the 1960s through 2005, looking

at relevant performance indicators from each (including sales,

earnings, profitability, and market capitalization) and found some

striking patterns: Since the mid-1990s, a new competitive


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dynamic has emerged—greater gaps between the leaders and

laggards in an industry, more concentrated and winner-take-all

markets, and more churn among rivals in a sector. Strikingly, this

pattern closely matches the turbulent “creative destruction”

mode of capitalism that was first predicted over 60 years ago by

economist Joseph Schumpeter. This accelerated competition has

coincided with a sharp increase in the quantity and quality of IT

investments, as more organizations have moved to bolster (or

altogether replace) their existing operating models using the

internet and enterprise software. Tellingly, the changes in

competitive dynamics are most apparent in precisely those

sectors that have spent the most on information technology, even

when we controlled for other factors.

This pattern is a familiar one in markets for digitized products

like computer software and music. Those industries have long

been dominated by both a winner-take-all dynamic and high

turbulence, as each group of dominant innovators is threatened

by succeeding waves of innovation. Consider how quickly Google

supplanted Yahoo, which supplanted AltaVista and others that

created the search engine market from nothing. Or the relative

speed with

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