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Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance Paperback – 19 Jan 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Export edition (19 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743260872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743260879
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Financial Times The most influential management book of the past quarter century....A veritable goldmine of analytical concepts and tools to help companies get a much clearer grasp of how they can create and sustain competitive advantage.

Philip Kotler S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Northwestern University Michael Porter has done it again. Having defined the "what" and "why" of competitive strategy in his earlier book, he now define the "how" in Competitive Advantage.

Newsday A sharp, aggressive, and cogently reasoned book about competition that your smarter rivals will try to get to first.

The Washington Post A brilliant structural analysis of what competitive advantage might mean....

Antitrust Law & Economics Review A superb guide for business managers but also necessary background study for judges, antitrust agency officials, and economic experts in antitrust cases.

About the Author

Michael E. Porter, one of the world's leading authorities on competitive strategy and international competitiveness, is the C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. In 1983, Professor Porter was appointed to President Reagan's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness, the initiative that triggered the competitiveness debate in America. He serves as an advisor to heads of state, governors, mayors, and CEOs throughout the world. The recipient of the Wells Prize in Economics, the Adam Smith Award, three McKinsey Awards, and honorary doctorates from the Stockholm School of Economics and six other universities, Porter is the author of fourteen books, among them Competitive Strategy, The Competitive Advantage of Nations, and Cases in Competitive Strategy, all published by The Free Press. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Michael Porter is the founding father for strategies in a competitive context. This pioneering book represents some of his best thoughts on business and corporate strategy.
Chapter 1 is a summary of his first landmark book - "Competitive Strategy". So if you just want to buy one of his bestsellers, then buy "Competitive Advantage".
The book's most important contribution is the concept of the VALUE CHAIN. Today, you won't find an MBA who doesn't know this idea. This book gives you all the details on the value chain. And it even tells you exactly how the value chain is translated into his two generic strategies: Cost Leadership and Differentiation. Most strategy books devote a separate chapter to this idea. If you want to get a more than a superficial understanding of the value chain, you simply have to read Porter's book.
This book also gets to the core of how synergies are created and when diversification might work. Curiously, Porter chooses the term interrelationships for synergies (you know, a term for a nice idea that rarely occurred in practice...).
Being a business development manager, I have strategic thinking as part of my key areas. This book is still a reference guide for me. Obviously though, Porter's views cannot stand-alone.
If you're looking for critical views on Porter's ideas, then consider buying Hamel & Prahalad's "Competing for the Future" (1994) or Kim & Mauborgne's "Blue Ocean Strategy" (2005).
Beware: You have to read Porter's Harvard Business review article "What is Strategy" from 1996, if you want his own response to the critics.
Warning: You cannot work seriously with strategy without having understood Michael Porter's core concepts.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Porter is a Harvard Business School professor and a leading authority on competition and strategy. This book builds on his initial 1980-book 'Competitive Strategy', which focuses on the industries surrounding businesses (summary of 'Competitive Strategy' is Chapter 1!). In this book, 'Competitive Advantage', Porter focuses on the business itself. The book is based on the activity-based theory of the firm. Activities are what generate cost and create value for buyers/customers, and are the basic units for competitive advantage.
'Competitive Advantage' consists of four parts - Principles of Competitive Advantage, Competitive Scope within an Industry, Corporate Strategy and Competitive Advantage, and Implications for Offensive and Defensive Competitive Strategy. Part I introduces the concept of the value, which is a general framework for thinking about the activities involved in any business and assessing their relative costs and role in differentiation. Then Porter explains the impact of the value chain on cost advantage, differentiation, technology and competitors. Part II discusses industry segmentation and substitution. Part III explains the interrelationships among business units and their impact on horizontal strategy, achievement of interrelationships, and complementary products. Part IV discusses industry scenarios under uncertainty, defensive strategy, and attacks on industry leaders.
Although some parts of the book are somewhat outdated, I would say that many modern management books are based on this book. It is a very useful introduction into activities within businesses and is written in simple US-English.
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Format: Hardcover
Many managers have a copy of this book on their book shelf - most have read the first 40-50 pages but no more. This is a shame (there is great value in the second half) but understandable as there are few examples and the text build on itself so working through the copy requires continual focus.
There are almost zero recorded applications of the entire value chain approach in the literature - either the results are too valuable or it is too difficult - I am not sure which one is the case.
My PhD is on the use of value chains which are realigned to how the customer values the results (in FMCG supermarkets) then how each precursive step can be then optimised to suit the customer value equation. It is almost a line of best fit as optimising one step always impacts on the other steps - just as Heisenberg said for managing both location and velocity of things.
Great book - read it from end to end or you will not get the true benefits. What it needs is a second book that brings the cases to life with real world examples - you will have to wait for my book for that bonus.
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Format: Hardcover
This classic work on competition is indicative of the importance of Michael Porter's pivotal contributions to management literature. The book seems as fresh and relevant today as when it was first published more than a quarter-century ago. Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, is the author of 16 books, and a leading authority on competitive strategy and economic development. His ideas have guided economic policy worldwide, which may account for his nine honorary degrees and numerous awards. This book demonstrates the reasons for his influence. He provides a clear, deftly written, very accessible guide to developing and implementing competitive strategy. He covers the fundamentals of value chains, costs, differentiation, technology, substitution, synergies and more. getAbstract assumes that they told you in business school to reread this frequently as a management touchstone.
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