Charlotte R. Ren, Ye Hu and Tony H. Cui
Research Summary. This study investigates incumbent responses to a main rival’s exit. We argue that long‐time rivals have developed an equilibrium by offering a mix of overlapping and unique products and by choosing geographic proximity to each other. A rival’s exit, however, disrupts this equilibrium and motivates surviving firms to expand in both product and geographic spaces to seek a new equilibrium. Using data from all U.S. Best Buy stores before and after the exit of Circuit City, we find that Best Buy uses product variety expansion as its major response in markets where Circuit City was colocated, but it more often responds by opening new stores in non‐colocated markets. Regardless of preexisting market structures, the magnitude of product variety expansion decreases with the opening of new stores.
Managerial Summary. How do surviving firms respond to a major rival’s exit? By studying Best Buy’s responses to Circuit City’s withdrawal, we find the survivor expands in both product space (increasing product variety) and geographic space (opening new stores), due to two motives. First, the survivor strives to fill in “holes” left in the market. Second, the survivor experiences uncertainty in the post‐exit world wherein its reference point is gone, threat of potential entry looms, and it lacks information about new entrants. Thus, it must deter potential entry ex ante by preempting many prime product and geographic locations. Best Buy also responds according to preexisting market structures, primarily through product variety expansion in markets wherein Circuit City was colocated and through opening new stores in non‐colocated markets.
Strategic Management Journal. 2019, 40(2): 253-276.
Click here for the Ren.Hu.Cui 2019 SMJ Paper.
Charlotte R. Ren, Ye Hu, Yu (Jeffrey) Hu and Jerry Hausman
Abstract. Product variety is an important strategic tool that firms can use to attract customers and respond to competition. This study focuses on the retail industry and investigates how stores manage their product variety, contingent on the presence of competition and their actual distance from rivals. Using a unique data set that contains all Best Buy and Circuit City stores in the United States, the authors find that a store’s product variety (i.e., number of stock-keeping units) increases if a rival store exists in its market but, in the presence of such competition, decreases when the rival store is collocated (within one mile of the focal store). Moreover, collocated rival stores tend to differentiate themselves by overlapping less in product range than do non-collocated rivals. This smaller and more differentiated product variety may be because of coordinated interactions between collocated stores. In summary, this paper presents evidence of both coordination and competition in retailers’ use of product variety.
Management Science. 2011, 57(6): 1009-1024.
Click here for the paper: Ren-Hu-Hu-Hausman 2011MS (SSRN Version).
Olav Sorenson, Susan McEvily, Charlotte R. Ren and Raja Roy
Abstract. Although strategy research typically regards firm scope as a positional characteristic associated with performance differences, we propose that broad contemporary scope also provides insight into the routines that govern firm behavior. To attain broad scope, firms must repeatedly explore outside the boundaries of their current niche. Firms with broad niches therefore operate under a set of routines that repeatedly propel them into new market segments, expanding their niche. These niche expansions, however, involve risky organizational changes, behavior that disadvantages generalists relative to specialists, despite the positional value of broad scope. Empirical analyses of machine tool manufacturers and computer workstation manufacturers support this conjecture: (i) generalists introduce new products at a higher than optimal rate, thereby increasing their exit rates; and (ii) generalists also more frequently launch new models with novel features or targeted at new consumer segments rather than improving only incrementally on existing products, further accelerating their odds of failure. After adjusting for these behavioral differences, broad niche widths reduce exit rates, suggesting that they provide positional advantages. The paper discusses how this phenomenon may help to explain the diversification and multi-nationality discounts.
Strategic Management Journal. 2006, 27(10): 915-936.
Click here for the paper: Sorenson-McEvily-Ren-Roy_2006SMJ