Louis Thomas

Louis Thomas

Associate Professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

MLK Visiting Professor 1997-1998

Hosted by the Sloan School of Management


Louis A. Thomas is an Associate Professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. At the time of his MIT appointment, he was an assistant professor. His research interests are competitive strategy, game theory, and industrial organization economics.

Dr. Thomas earned his BA (1986) from Yale University. He holds both an AM (1990) and a PhD in Business Economics (1992) from Harvard University.

Prior to teaching, he briefly worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. (1988) and at Booz, Allen & Hamilton (1991-1992).

In 1994, Dr. Thomas joined the faculty at Wharton as the Whitney M. Young Jr. Assistant Professor of Management and has been teaching there since.   

Dr. Thomas also teaches at the Indian Business School (ISB), where he was nominated Professor of the Year by the Class of 2013 for exceptional mentorship, for his teaching of ISB’s popular ‘Economics of Strategy’ course—and, according to one student, for his “sheer brilliance, razor-sharp logic and unmatched sense of humour”.

As an MLK Scholar at MIT, Dr. Thomas was hosted by The Sloan School of Management.


MGMT211 - Competitive Strategy

This is an advanced course in competitive strategy. The course will apply the tools of industrial organization economics and game theory to examine the strategic decisions that managers make. We will examine those decisions concerning pricing, capacity investment, advertising, new product introductions, and research and development. Emphasis will be placed on the strategic interaction among rival sellers. In particular we will look at the various methods of entry deterrence and strategic commitment. The course will attempt to integrate traditional economic models with case study materials.

MGMT211001  ( Syllabus ) 

MGMT711 - Competitive Strategy and Industrial Structure

This is a course in analyzing competitive interactions. The course emphasizes a vision of strategy in which each competitor simultaneously chooses its strategy, taking into account the strategies of its opponents. Crucial to this vision is the anticipation of the moves of your opponent and, in particular, the expectation that your opponent is (almost) as smart as you are. Equal attention will be given to the development of techniques for analyzing competitive interactions and to the application of those techniques. Game theory and the economics of industrial organization provide the basis for the theoretical constructs developed in the course. Topics that will be explored include: market failures and profitability, competitive bidding, signaling, entry deterrence, agenda setting, regulations, and price wars.

MGMT711001  ( Syllabus ) 

MGMT784 - Managerial Economics and Game Theory

The purpose of this course is to develop students' abilities to apply game theory to decision making. Development of the tools of game theory and the application of those tools is emphasized. Game theory has become an important tool for managers and consultants in analyzing and implementing tactical as well as strategic actions. This course will primarily focus on examples useful for developing competitive strategy in the private sector (pricing and product strategy, capacity choices, contracting and negotiating, signaling and bluffing, takeover strategy, etc.). Game theory can also be used to address problems relevant to a firm's organizational strategy (e.g., internal incentives and information flow within a firm) and to a firm's non-market environment (e.g., strategic trade policies, litigation and regulation strategy).



Selected, 1995-2000

​Product Location Choice and Firm Capabilities: Evidence from the U.S. Automobile Industry

Louis Thomas and Keith Weigelt
Strategic Management Journal
Vol. 21, No. 9 (Sep., 2000), pp. 897-909
Abstract: We test theories of product differentiation and firm capabilities using data from the U.S. automobile industry. We find managers introduce new models close to their existing ones but far from rival models. We also find entrants and foreign manufacturers locate models closer to rival models. These results are consistent with both economic models of product differentiation and theories of firm capabilities.

Advertising Sunk Costs and Credible Spatial Preemption

Louis A. Thomas
Strategic Management Journal
Vol. 17, No. 6 (Jun., 1996), pp. 481-498
Abstract: Large sunk investments in advertising allow managers to credibly preempt potential entrants by introducing new products prior to anticipated increases in market growth. Previous investment in advertising can lower a firm's cost to introduce new products allowing it to credibly preempt potential entrants. Entrants may not have enough residual share to find it profitable to enter later, and incumbents find it profitable to keep new products in the market even if entrants choose to enter. I present empirical evidence from the RTE cereal industry.

​Brand Capital and Incumbent Firms' Positions in Evolving Markets

Louis A. Thomas
The Review of Economics and Statistics
Vol. 77, No. 3 (Aug., 1995), pp. 522-534
Abstract: In many advertising-intensive industries one observes market share persistence, i.e., firms maintaining lead market shares over long periods of time. I hypothesize that firms that have the largest stock of well-established brands, a stock that I term brand capital, are most likely to introduce new products in response to new market information about consumer preferences. Firms with less brand capital delay their introductions until the uncertainty concerning the market size is reduced. I present empirical support in a study of new product introductions in the U.S. beverage industry.