Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals

By Nathan Bennett; Stephen A. Miles | Go to book overview

2 UNDERSTANDING FUNDAMENTAL
GAME THEORY CONCEPTS

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Nobel prize–winner and game theory pioneer Reinhard Selten observed that people work diligently to be rational ex post. That is, we commonly look back at how a situation played out to try and understand how a better outcome might have been achieved. This contrasts with a game theory approach in which the goal is to develop a strategy that will lead to that better outcome a priori. Recognizing your interdependencies with other individuals is key in terms of developing an effective strategy. Your ability to achieve a desired outcome based on a decision is consequently dependent on your insight regarding the likely decisions and reactions of others. You can improve your ability to understand others' actions and reactions by explicitly recognizing the interdependence among parties and by making use of a host of concepts developed by game theorists. As a result, you can make better decisions.

Our purpose in this chapter is to introduce and discuss the key game theory concepts that will be useful in understanding your career as a game. We begin with an introduction to different types of games and a discussion of how the type of game that you play impacts your strategy. Next, we review the most important game theory concepts and their roles in the career game. Finally, we draw on work by John McMillan on game theory and business strategy to present and discuss the critical questions that players need to address in order to frame their career games. Answering these questions appropriately will allow you to understand the rules, players, boundaries, and time constraints of the game you are setting out to play.

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