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The Competitive Advantage [Hardcover]

Michael E. Porter
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Aug 1998
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE introduces a whole new way of understanding what a firm does. Porter's groundbreaking concept of the value chain disaggregates a company into 'activities', or the discrete functions or processes that represent the elemental building blocks of competitive advantage. Now an essential part of international business thinking, COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE takes strategy from broad vision to an internally consistent configuration of activities. Its powerful framework provides the tools to understand the drivers of cost and a company's relative cost position. Porter's value chain enables managers to isolate the underlying sources of buyer value that will command a premium price, and the reasons why one product or service substitutes for another. He shows how competitive advantage lies not only in activities themselves but in the way activities relate to each other, to supplier activities, and to customer activities. That the phrases 'competitive advantage' and 'sustainable competitive advantage' have become commonplace is testimony to the power of Porter's ideas. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE has guided countless companies, business school students, and scholars in understanding the roots of competition. Porter's work captures the extraordinary complexity of competition in a way that makes strategy both concrete and actionable.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; New edition edition (3 Aug 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684841460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684841465
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 788,037 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.

About the Author

Michael E. Porter, one of the world's leading authorities on competitive strategy and international competitiveness, is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is the author of fourteen books, among them COMPETITIVE STRATEGY, THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF NATIONS, and CASES IN COMPETITIVE STRATEGY.

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First Sentence
Competition is at the core of the success or failure of firms. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
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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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Framework for activities within a business 29 Nov 2001
By A Customer
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard work as a book but worth the effort. 5 Nov 1998
By A Customer
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 2 Nov 1998
By A Customer
I used this book in preparation for job interviews in Management Consulting and it was essential. I also read the Vault Reports Guide to Management Consulting and Vault Reports Case Interview Guide and found both extremely helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pivotal contribution to management literature 28 May 2008
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Well worth the money and just what I was expecting - top tip from my tutor so please with the purchase
Published 5 days ago by Rachel
3.0 out of 5 stars Competitive advantage
I have to be honest, I haven't read the book yet but I just really wished that they would have charged a few pounds more to make the pages of the book of thicker white pages... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sylvana
5.0 out of 5 stars For my course.
I bought this book for my business course. I found this book very helpful. It is good value for money.
Published 8 months ago by Jacqueline Birrane
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up call for small businesses
This book is a must have for any small business owner who is struggling to grow their business. The book covers how to start working on your business instead of just working in... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
THe book is well packed
and ontime shippong
The quality is great and accurately to the preview
happy and recommended
Published 11 months ago by louise
4.0 out of 5 stars Competitive Advantage
Although the bias is towards the Manufacturing industry, one can draw parallels with the service industry too. Read more
Published 15 months ago by A. A. Pinheiro
4.0 out of 5 stars college course book
dry subject for couirsework

essential details there in the book though. very good conndition
arrived in plenty of time and before specified date
Published 15 months ago by D. R. Pugsley
4.0 out of 5 stars Competitive Advantage
It is a very good book. It is still relevant in today's work place.
The author has great knowledge of his subject.
Published 24 months ago by S. Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all management and MBA students
The title says it all, this is one of the first books you should read in regard to strategy and competitive advantage.
Published on 6 April 2012 by Dan Costa
5.0 out of 5 stars Bible of strategy
A very good book to understand how companies do their business strategically. A Higly recommended piece of work for anyone who wants to be a strategist in the sphere of business.
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by Mubasher
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