Zero-sum game

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1. Game theory.

Strictly, a zero-sum game is one in which the total wealth or utility of all participants adds up to exactly zero, regardless of the outcome.

Therefore any individual participant can only gain by disadvantaging others.


In a zero-sum game, win-win strategies are therefore not appropriate or effective for participants in maximising their own utility or wealth.


2. Analysis paralysis.

The term "zero-sum game" is also used more loosely, to describe any situation in which further intervention or analysis are considered not to be warranted, because no net benefits are likely to be achieved.

The expected costs of further intervention or analysis outweighing their expected benefits.


See also