Background Note | HBS Case Collection | November 2006 (Revised December 2012)

Strategies Beyond the Market

by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Dennis Yao


Strategists are not alone in finding failing markets irresistible. Governments and social groups ranging from unions to the World Wildlife Fund also respond to market failures. Governments typically seek to fix failing markets, often with prescriptions of what companies can and cannot do. Activist groups are also out to change corporate behavior, but they rely on social pressure to reach their goals. Many companies that compete successfully in the market environment stumble when it comes to dealing with governments and social groups. Microsoft's near breakup by the U.S. Department of Justice and Wal-Mart's less-than-stellar performance against groups who oppose the retailer's stores are just two of many examples. "Strategies Beyond the Market" overviews an additional set of tools that strategists can use to contend with and exploit forces in a company's government, legal, and social environment.

Keywords: Markets; Failure; Strategy; Situation or Environment; Social Issues; Government and Politics; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact;


Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, and Dennis Yao. "Strategies Beyond the Market." Harvard Business School Background Note 707-469, November 2006. (Revised December 2012.)