Three economists get in a rental car, and… well… you can probably make up your own joke.
But it’s no joke for the Roadside MBA Team. We three are economists and business strategy professors, and we recently broke free from our Ivory Towers and hit the backroads of America. There, we found brilliant applications of MBA-level strategic reasoning — all devised and implemented by hometown small business owners.
We bring these stories and applications to life in our book Roadside MBA: Backroad Lessons for Executives, Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners, which is available at these fine retailers:
“Succeeds admirably in its main aim, providing fresh examples to illustrate the basic tenets of MBA theory… The picture that emerges from Roadside MBA is a surprisingly uplifting one: of a country that is still abuzz with enthusiasm for business.” – The Economist
“Mazzeo, Oyer, and Schaefer shine when it comes to explaining big ideas in clean and simple language served up with a large dollop of humor.” – Fortune
“An excellent primer on dealing with problems that keep managers…awake at night.” – Financial Times
“A great new book that combines two quintessentially American things: the road trip and small businesses.” – Jack Covert Selects
“Refreshingly different from your typical high-toned business books….Timeless lessons for every executive, entrepreneur, and business student.” – Bloomberg BusinessWeek
“Keynes meets Kerouac… A reminder of everything that makes business vital, fascinating–even fun.”— Inc. Magazine
- Scaling a Business To grow profitably, you need to understand economies of scale… Braces by Burris in Jonesboro, Arkansas, sure does.
- Establishing Barriers to Entry Key Fire Hose in Dothan, Alabama, scares off potential rivals using the sunk cost principle.
- Product Differentiation Bank of Montana (Missoula) and Community First Bank (Post Falls, Idaho) are banking startups that target dramatically different market segments. Which is right? (Hint: Probably both!)
- Setting Prices Learn how manufacturer Marietta NDT (“non-destructive testing”, Georgia) prices its custom products by focusing on customer willingness-to-pay, rather than its cost.
- Managing Your Brand Brand is a word that means different things in different contexts. How do Blind Squirrel Digital (Hickory, North Carolina) and Collins Diamonds (Liberal, Kansas) use branding to influence customers?
- Negotiating Effectively Gaylord Chemical in Slidell, Louisiana is a little chemical company partnered with a big oil company. How does Gaylord negotiate to capture value?
- Hiring Learn how Saint Joe Distributing (St. Joseph, Missouri) makes operational decisions with an eye on who will apply for their jobs.
- Incentives for Employees Plastics Molding Company in Cincinnati pays manufacturing employees based on group productivity, but Eagle’s Landing Informatics (Johnson City, Tennessee) ties pay to individual performance. Who’s got the better strategy?
- Delegation Midwest Products Group (Jefferson City, Missouri) manages a far-flung set of concrete block plants. What decisions are made by local managers, and what stays with the CEO?
- Battling the Big Boys Tiny GPS Source in Pueblo, Colorado battles the big defense contractors by facilitating internal communication. Why is this so hard for the Big Boys to copy?
- Strategy is a Continuous Process Strategy is never a solved problem, as illustrated by the experience of the small (but uber-adaptable) telco Megagate in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.