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Government Games

As the shadow of corporate scandals looms ever larger, government’s role in regulating and influencing core business practices also has grown more prominent. As a result, businesses are struggling to reconcile the spotlight of increased regulation with the goals of corporate strategy. To navigate these difficult straits, businesses need to understand how governments can help or hinder their business objectives while they develop hybrid strategies that focus on shaping the rules. It becomes essential that companies better understand the games business and government play and the roles of each in making and enforcing the rules.

Michael D. Watkins, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, identifies two major types of games: value-net games, which relate to cooperation and competition among businesses, and public-interest games, in which coalitions of businesses and industry associations are pitted against nonbusiness organizations, such as unions, consumer groups and environmental entities. Watkins believes that the most effective businesses craft their strategies by combining different approaches from each game, which in turn helps to shape how governments regulate future corporate activity.

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