A core competency is an attribute of a company that gives it a competitive advantage-an attribute, an area of differentiation, an area of expertise that is the harmonization of all the resources, technologies, skills and activities of a company. To be a true core competency, the attribute should provide potential access to a wide variety of markets, should make a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefits of the end product, and should be difficult for competitors to imitate.
Brigham Young University’s core competency is undoubtedly its culture. The school’s culture is the harmonization of the mission of BYU, the honor code, the general education requirements and all of its other resources and skills. The culture is what makes BYU what it is: a University for academic excellence, devout worship, eternal progression, building character, etc. The culture is what attracts a wide variety of customers, what makes a difference to the end product, and is extremely difficult to imitate.
A valuable resource, on the other hand, is a more concrete basis, whether tangible or intangible, that gives a company a competitive advantage. To qualify as a valuable resource, a resource should pass tests of inimitability, durability, appropiability, substitutability, and competitive superiority.
BYU’s valuable resource is its people and their commitment to fulfill the mission of the University. The employees of BYU are inimitable, durable for the most part, irreplaceable as a whole, and arguably competitively superior. Although the staff does not fulfill all of the components of a perfect valuable resource, the employees of BYU is the tangible resource that gives BYU the advantage that it has.
BYU has done a tremendous job of positioning itself clearly in the minds of its customers. BYU has positioned itself based on all three categories of positioning-variety based, needs based, and access based.
The University is variety based because it offers a distinct product, an environment to learn truth, including the truth of the Gospel. The University only offers certain majors and certain types of degrees as well, further segmenting its customers in those ways.
The school has a needs based positioning in addition because of the orientation and appeal to only a specific type of student or customer, one wanting to learn in such an academic and religious atmosphere. Delivering a product according to the religious and overall needs of its customers nicely positions BYU in its market.
And the University is access based because of its station in Provo, Utah. BYU cannot be the school for everyone, even just geographically speaking. The University has strategically chosen its locations for schooling and for satellite schooling (while also offering independent study courses) but is limited by its customers’ accessibility.
No Honor Code Track?
BYU should absolutely not create a no honor code track to target additional students. BYU has built its brand on offering a religious education requiring its students to abide by certain principles. To change that core component of BYU’s strategy would violate the company’s fit with its activities and resources. BYU has strategically positioned itself and must now recognize that there are trade-offs and must discipline itself to “saying no” and letting go of revenues from non-abiding honor-code students.
BYU should not be intimidated by the entrance of Utah Valley University and should not begin a price-war for tuition. BYU serves a different set of products and services then does UVU. BYU’s brand is differentiated and well defined. Therefore, lowering prices would not be wise. BYU can charge a higher price than UVU because of its premium product and services. A price war would ultimately create a losing situation for both schools and should not be resorted to, especially not at the beginning of UVU’s existence (without knowing UVU’s intentions to undercut BYU). With differentiated products and a loyal consumer base, BYU should not price-match UVU’s tuition.
Acquire UVU? Ignore UVU?
Because BYU is a religious university and not trying to maintain market share, BYU need not acquire UVU to fulfill its mission and purposes as a University. That being said, BYU should not completely ignore UVU either. Although BYU wants UVU to be successful and help teach and prepare students well, BYU would not be pleased losing its most valued teachers, staff, and its students. Although unlikely to happen, BYU going out of business would certainly not reflect well on the Church. Therefore, BYU should pay some attention to UVU’s strategic moves, while realizing that BYU does maintain the upper hand. BYU should recognize its premium brand, its loyal customers, and should continue doing business regularly as long as UVU does not become a viable threat.