Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars36
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Anyone would agree that this book is the best overview of competitive strategy analysis ever written. The strength of the book is a solid outline of subjects and questions to improve your thinking, and get to be a step ahead of the competition. In highly-competitive, commodity businesses, that's usually what strategies focus on.
On the other hand, the rapid advances of knowledge and technology mean that the relevant benchmark is perfection, not the competitor, in defining an ideal best practice. In that world, this book has serious limitations, because the competitive dimension is often less important than the customer and user dimension these days.
Any business arena begins, as Peter Drucker so aptly put it, with the task "to create a customer." That reminder is especially relevant today when they are so many new ways to serve a customer's needs that no one has ever considered before. The strategic point of 'Blown to Bits' for example is that almost every business will see its vertical value chain (moving from resources through to the customer) broken apart into tiny segments each served by specialists. If you did not begin with that perspective in analyzing the impact of electronically-based business practices, you could easily focus on the wrong tasks using this book to create an over-broad strategy focus, rather than concentrating on just a few areas.
I suspect that the applications of Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law need to be explicitly considered as part of the analysis that Professor Porter is recommending.
A more general weakness in this book is that it assumes that future conditions will be stable enough to draw conclusions about which conditions will be favorable, without giving enough guidance on how to deal with the increasing frequencies and degrees of volatility that we see (in areas like financial markets, commodity prices, the weather, changing customer preferences, and so forth).
Although no book that takes such a narrow focus can help but have weaknesses (like having the podiatrist not notice that you have kidney problems), if you want a good start of how to think about competitors, this is the book for you. Just be sure you keep developing yours strategy with additional dimensions after you finish using this analysis.
If you have read none of Professor Porter's works, this is the one book you should read.
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 November 2001
Michael Porter is a Harvard Business School professor and a leading authority on competition and strategy. This book is a landmark in the field of strategy/strategic management, which later has become known as the positioning school. The book provides a great framework.
The book consists of three parts - General Analytical Techniques, Generic Industry Environments, and Strategic Decisions. In addition, the two appendices - Portfolio Techniques in Competitor Analysis, and How to Conduct an Industry Analysis - should also be mentioned as they are very useful.
In Part I, Porter discussess the structural analysis of industries (with the world-famous five forces), the three generic competitive strategies (overall cost leadership, focus, and differentiation), an excellent framework for competitor analysis, competitive moves, strategy toward buyers and suppliers, structural analysis within industries (strategic groups, strategic mapping, mobility barriers), and industry evolution (life cycle, evolutionary processes).
In Part II, Porter discusses competitive strategy within various generic industry environments, such as fragmented industries (with no real market leader), emerging industries (e-commerce and Internet are excellent examples, although not mentioned in this book as it was written in 1980), mature industries, declining industries, and global industries.
In Part III, Porter discusses strategic decisions which businesses/firms can take, such as vertical integration (forward, backward, partnerships), capacity expansion, and entry into new industries/businesses.
Even after 20 years, most of this book still stands strong, although some people will argue this. It is a MUST for MBA-students and all other people interested in strategy/strategic management. The book is good to read (simple US-English) and thus does not become a struggle.
0Comment|37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 October 2002
Michael E. Porter is a Harvard Business School professor and a leading authority on competition and strategy. This book is a landmark in the field of strategy/strategic management, and Porter's view has later become known as the positioning school. The book provides a great framework.
The book consists of three parts - General Analytical Techniques, Generic Industry Environments, and Strategic Decisions. In addition, the two appendices - Portfolio Techniques in Competitor Analysis, and How to Conduct an Industry Analysis - should also be mentioned as they are very useful.
In Part I, Porter discussess the structural analysis of industries (with the world-famous five forces), the three generic competitive strategies (overall cost leadership, focus, and differentiation), an excellent framework for competitor analysis, competitive moves, strategy toward buyers and suppliers, structural analysis within industries (strategic groups, strategic mapping, mobility barriers), and industry evolution (life cycle, evolutionary processes).
In Part II, Porter discusses competitive strategy within various generic industry environments, such as fragmented industries (with no real market leader), emerging industries (e-commerce and Internet are excellent examples, although not mentioned in this book as it was written in 1980), mature industries, declining industries, and global industries.
In Part III, Porter discusses strategic decisions which businesses/firms can take, such as vertical integration (forward, backward, partnerships), capacity expansion, and entry into new industries/businesses.
Even after 20 years, most of this book still stands strong, although some people will argue this. It is a MUST for MBA-students and all other people interested in strategy/strategic management. The book is good to read (simple US-English) and thus does not become a struggle.
0Comment|27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 November 2007
I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into this book, but I personally feel misled by the publication date showing on Amazon and wanted to bring this to the attention of others.

I purchased this book because I was looking for something 'recent' on the topic of strategy. Whilst 2004 is not that recent, I have great respect for M Porter and so was happy that it was recent enough for my purposes.

Unfortunately, upon opening the book, I find that it is a 1980 book on strategy with a 2004 preface.

The content is still good but it kind of defeats the purpose if you are looking for some modern thoughts on and techniques relating to strategy.
11 comment|10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 September 2004
This seminal book is a classic and ought to be read by anyone in business. Michael E. Porter's ideas on competitiveness have lost little relevance despite the fact that he first advanced them in this book in 1980. They have now become so much a part of business practice and business language that one reads the book more with a sense of recognition than a sense of discovery. His prose style is clear and straightforward, albeit somewhat plodding, and the book can tend to repeat itself. However, Porter's clarity is a welcome change from the murk you encounter in many other books on business strategy, and his repetition serves a useful pedagogical purpose. We highly recommend this excellent book. If you're in business, it's relevant.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 February 2004
Most people who buy this book will do so for thier study work. I am undertaking an MBA and this has proven invaluable for the dissertation. Its great to get down to the original text and interpret the theories for yourself.
If you were considering buying this book then consider no longer. It will help you get the grades you need.
0Comment|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 December 1999
The book is a brilliant insight into business strategy. It offers a very useful framework for industry analysis but will definitely benefit from a revision. The examples throughout the book are logical and easy to understand but could be replaced with newer ones. The book is not taking into account the impact of changes due to the growing use of the Internet by businesses. Nevertheless the framework remains surprisingly valid almost 20 years after the book was published for the first time.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 July 2001
This is not a high brow study based on unworkable theory. It provides a workable structure to building a strategy and gives tangeable examples to help create the vision and the tools to help acheive it.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 May 1999
Porter presents a comprehensive framework of analytical techniques to analyse industries and competitors in an understandable language. This book will help you understand industries and competitors, and will enable you to translate this knowledge into a competitive strategy. Each and every company builds its strategy on this book. His second book (Competitive Advantage) expands on this issue in far more detail, and is therefore very useful for the workout of strategy. Some additional information: Prof.Michael E. Porter (Harvard Business School) is the leading authority on the issue of competition.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 December 2015
This is a classic business strategy text and is essential reading for anybody who has a serious interest in business strategy.

The book is written in three sections:
1 - General Analytical Techniques
2 - Generic Industry Environments
3 - Strategic Decisions

Part I General Analytical Techniques - this section introduces two of Michael Porter's most famous ideas:
- The five forces of competition
- Generic competitive strategies - he has been criticised for saying that failure to choose means that businesses would be "stuck in the middle" and condemn themselves to inadequate performance. There are some special cases which Michael Porter has addresses in this book which make it possible to have a differentiation advantage and a cost advantage at the same time.

Less well known but equally valuable is guidance on how to prepare a competitor analysis so that you can understand what your competitors are trying to achieve, their likely moves and how they are likely to react to your moves.

Other items covered in this first section of the book are:
- Signalling to competitors - there are some great game theory applications on this that aren't covered in the book but are fascinating - look for details on the prisoner's dilemma and chicken.
- Competitive moves
- Strategies towards buyers and suppliers
- Structural forces within industries which introduces the concept of strategic groups of competitors who have broadly similar strategies
- Industry evolution and movements through the product life cycle

Part II Generic Industry Environments

Different industries develop different structures.
- Fragmented industries - local suppliers, no competitor dominates. Michael Porter looks at why industries stay fragmented and at the opportunities for a dynamic competitor to consolidate and acquire a critical competitive advantage.
- Emerging industries - some new products are so innovative that they create new industries. For example before mobile cell phones, who was aware of Nokia but it rapidly became a household name. Michael Porter explains the underlying forces which determine industry evolution as the new product becomes more established.
- Industry maturity - after a new industry goes through a rapid growth stage, the industry matures which presents new challenges for management.
- Declining industries - some industries are able to constantly renew themselves within the existing technology eg the motor industry but others find their technology and product offerings obsolete or only appealing to a small number of die-hards. In this chapter Michael Porter looks at the issues of how you can decide whether you exit a declining industry early or stay around to reap "last man standing" profit.
- Global industries - Michael Porter turned much more of his attention to the forces for globalisation later in his career but this is still a great source of the strategic drivers which determine why some industries do become global.

Part III - Strategic Decisions

Porter looks at the factors that would help you to make key strategic decisions:
- Vertical integration - moving forward into your customers' markets or backwards to compete with suppliers.
- Capacity expansion - you sell more, you want to expand but over-capacity is one of the most destructive contributors to intense competition in an industry as competitors get greedy and want more of the market or mis-read the market growth prospects, perhaps because they haven't recognised the threat of an up and coming substitute.
- Entry into new businesses - this may be through internal development or acquisition but Michael Porter examines the factors to establish whether diversification makes sense.

This is an outstanding book. Yes it was written in 1980 and it shows sign so of age, especially in the stories and examples. The lessons are still relevant in many of today's marketplaces. It's at its weakest in industries that change rapidly and are high unpredictable. These are often technology based and developments happened at a slower pace in 1980. It's well worth reading the book "Your Strategy Needs A Strategy" to understand the different environments that differ from this classical approach.

My only other criticism is that it is quite a dry read and you will probably not want to read it from start to finish in a concentrated burst. Provided you become familiar with the five forces analysis technique, you will find that the book is quite easy to dip in and out as your needs change.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)