Arbitrage, bias, luck
Research suggests that people tend to be fooled by randomness and mistake luck for skill, particularly when evaluating extreme performances. I argue that these predictable mistakes can be translated into a source of competitive advantage: informed managers can exploit others’ misperceptions of luck, such as by arbitraging in strategic factor markets. I then discuss limits to this arbitrage strategy due to social constraints: stakeholders may not be able to accurately evaluate performances and may disapprove atypical strategic activities, suggesting that only strategists who are less sensitive to this “lemon problem” can take advantage of the resulting arbitrage opportunities. I conclude with a flowchart about when strategists should pursue this alternative source of strategic opportunity that turns the well- known biases on their head.
With permission of the Academy of Management