1410 Strategic Thinking and Analysis I
Univ.Prof. Dr. Ben Greiner
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/16/21 to 09/19/21
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Monday 10/04/21 12:30 PM - 03:30 PM TC.4.01
Monday 10/11/21 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM TC.5.01
Monday 10/18/21 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM TC.4.01
Monday 10/25/21 11:00 AM - 02:00 PM TC.3.21
Wednesday 11/03/21 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM EA.6.032
Monday 11/08/21 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM TC.4.01
Monday 11/15/21 12:30 PM - 03:30 PM D5.0.002
Monday 11/22/21 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM D3.0.225

This course provides an introduction to strategic thinking and to powerful tools and approaches for managerial decision-making. We will apply game theory to solve management problems and to determine optimal courses of action for decision makers. In particular, the course will cover the fundamentals of game-theoretical analysis as it applies to managerial decision-making problems. Game Theory is a structured way of analyzing strategic interactive situations. It is basic to the understanding of market competition among large firms, the designing of incentive contracts, bidding at auctions, bargaining, and other similar problems central to economics and business. 

This course will focus on games of complete/perfect information, and cover topics and strategic problems like competition and collusion, market structure, timing and commitment, bargaining and negotiation, cooperation and dilemmas, coordination problems, and finite and infinite horizons.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of game theoretical tools and solution concepts,
  • analyze strategic managerial decision situations and the incentives of actors therein, and to derive predictions about likely economic behavior,
  • evaluate and analyze data of actual decisions made in strategic situations, and derive conclusions,
  • present and discuss findings from that strategic analysis and evaluation of actual decisions, and
  • work collaboratively to complete a task.
Attendance requirements

Full attendance is expected for all lectures and experiments. If you cannot attend a lecture due to exceptional/unforeseeable circumstances, please contact the lecturer.

(If you are affected by quarantine or show symptoms of COVID-19 please contact your lecturer or the front office of IMS and do not participate in in-person lectures. Adjustments concerning the situation with COVID-19 will be announced in class / via email.)


Teaching/learning method(s)

Through making decisions in classroom experiments, at the end of each meeting, you will experience many different managerial decision situations first hand. This trains your empathy, strategic thinking, and social interaction skills.

After the lecture, descriptions of the situations (experimental instructions), anonymized data sets containing the decisions of participants, and a number of questions on each experiment will be posted online. The questions guide you in the analysis of the situations and data. Analyzing the situations and your own decisions with formal and informal tools lets you practice logical thinking, sharpens your economic intuition, and improves your knowledge about managerial and economic behavior. Analysis can be done individually or in groups of up to 3 people.

At the beginning of each class, a number of students will be (more or less randomly) selected to present their analysis. Presentations are individual (and individually marked), each student is expected to be able to present on each question. Presenting your results in class improves your structuring and communication skills.

Presentations are followed by (moderated) group discussions involving all students in class. You will learn from each other and train your argumentation and discussion skills.

Necessary game-theoretical background will be provided to you in (partly online) lecture form and preparation slides. Lecture slides will be made accessible after class. Understanding the economic theory will give you more insight into strategic behavior, and improve your analytical skills.

As part of this course will be taught online, the tool-kit of interaction will expand as in handing in the homework-analysis in written form and discussions that include chat windows and polls, as well as virtual class preparation such as videos and slides for self-learning.


Assignments, oral presentations and participation in group discussions (30%)

Assignments will be given in each class. At the beginning of each class, several students will be asked to analyze the strategic situations they experienced at the end of the last class, and to discuss the actual behavior of students based on collected decision data. This is followed by a group discussion. Marking is done continuously based on content and style of presentation and discussion. As part of the course will be taught online, some students will be selected randomly at the beginning of a lecture to hand in their homework assignments via email. For the random selection, the assignment's quality contributes to that 30 %.

Additionally, students can earn extra points by writing blog posts after class on real-world examples of the discussed strategic situations.

Written assignments (2 x 10%)

Two assignments will be marked in written form. Those two assignments are to be hand-in by all students of the course. They will be announced by the lecturer.

Final exam (50%)

The final exam will cover the entire course. The exam will include some questions which test pure knowledge and other questions which require to apply knowledge to new situations, similar to the regular homework assignments. Students can be asked to summarize the essential strategic properties of the situation, to describe the individual incentives of players, to make predictions about behavior based on justified assumptions, to compare those predictions with decision data and to discuss potential discrepancies. Marking in the final exam will be based on proficiency in applying game-theoretic tools, as well as logic and justification of arguments.

(If the final exam will be held in distance-mode, some deviations may apply that can additionally or substitutionally include: multiple-choice testing, open essay questions and/ or oral examination. The form of the final exam will be communicated during class.)


Resources available to students consist of:

  • Classroom experiment instructions – will be provided in each class
  • Collected decision data – will be provided online after experiments
  • Lecture slides – will be provided online after class

There is no prescribed/required textbook, because pricing for textbooks is outrageous and all the necessary information can also be found online in various forms. However, the textbook that comes closest to this course in terms of content and level is:

Avinash K. Dixit, Susan Skeath, and David Reiley, Games of Strategy. 3rd edition. W.W. Norton and Company, 2010. You can use any version of this textbook. The paperback of the 3rd edition seems to be currently the cheapest.

Other suggested books include:

  • Charles A. Holt: Market, Games & Strategic Behavior. Addison Wesley, 2006.
  • Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff: Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life. W. W. Norton & Company, 1993.
  • Adam C. Brandenburger and Barry J. Nalebuff: Co-Opetition : A Revolution Mindset That Combines Competition and Cooperation : The Game Theory Strategy That's Changing the Game of Business. Doubleday Business, 1994.
  • Tim Harford: The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car! Random House, 2007.
Last edited: 2021-06-23