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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategy book of the 1980s - still a key reference guide
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...
Published on 4 April 2005 by Peter Leerskov

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2.0 out of 5 stars VERY POOR QUALITY PAPER
The two stars is not a comment on the content of the book but of the extremely poor quality paper used ; best described as stiffened toilet paper . The outer cover of the book started to curl within a week of having left it around the house ! It reflects very poorly on the publisher . I fully agree with the person who left the 3 star review ; charge a bit more and provide...
Published 2 months ago by Philip Finnamore


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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategy book of the 1980s - still a key reference guide, 4 April 2005
This review is from: Competitive Advantage (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. And the superficial introduction by most - even advanced - strategy books won't make you competent enough to apply his ideas skilfully. Let me give you two examples:
COST STRUCTURE:
Most MBAs have learned about the value chain and cost structure analysis. But in real life I've seen very few who combine these two concepts proficiently. The real beauty in benchmarking cost structures is when you skilfully apply it to the value chain. This book tells you exactly how to do this. In practice, I've seen this approach applied very few times (except advanced strategy consultants). It may be because people often use Porter's concepts too casually...
COST DRIVERS:
Most strategy books are on drivers of differentiation - the preferred strategy choice by management gurus. And Porter does indeed help you on this issue. More importantly, this book is one of the few to tell you about the cost drivers. How many books have you read on Cost Leadership? Porter elaborates on 10 cost drivers, such as economies of scale, learning, linkages, synergies, pattern of capacity utilization, integration, timing, policies, and location.
STRATEGY IS ABOUT BEING DIFFERENT. Start out personally by reading the real thing ... it's a bargain.
Peter Leerskov,
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
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37 of 38 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 "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Any Senior Manager or Business Owner, 26 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Mr. Porter's book did an excellent job in outlining all the key areas that matter in the real world. Mr. Porter takes you through the exercise of properly choosing strategies (price, differentiation, technology) while focusing on buyer values to create sustainable competitive advantages and barriers.
His outline of industry segmentation helps to keep readers focused on properly using capital to maximize earnings and competitive positions (a common mistake in the business world). I found the read most helpful in structuring a much more sound strategic plan for my own company. Thank you to Mr. Porter for providing such a wonderful strategic guide.
CEO Profit Line of America, Inc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'mother' of all business strategy books, 4 Jun 1998
By A Customer
I just finished a competitive strategy class in my MBA program and this book was referred to often. The most helpful section is the one that breaks down a company's activities and helps create a 'value chain' to figure out how and where an organization creates value. Once this is done, Porter delineates how competitive advantages might be created based on tinkering with value chain activities. The only thing, I felt, was not covered in the book was the 'core competence' concept which is also derived from the value chain but ignored in this particular publication. Nevertheless, this is a 'must have' for all potential strategy consultants.
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5.0 out of 5 stars advantage, 30 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Competitive Advantage (Paperback)
with in this book I can go back and forwards so as to make the most of the subject brillant
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2.0 out of 5 stars VERY POOR QUALITY PAPER, 8 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Competitive Advantage (Paperback)
The two stars is not a comment on the content of the book but of the extremely poor quality paper used ; best described as stiffened toilet paper . The outer cover of the book started to curl within a week of having left it around the house ! It reflects very poorly on the publisher . I fully agree with the person who left the 3 star review ; charge a bit more and provide customers with a quality reference manual .
My advice is , if possible (?), find a different publisher because the content of the book is very important and you may want to read it a few times to ensure you fully understand and can implement it's suggestions .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 14 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance (Kindle Edition)
Well worth the money and just what I was expecting - top tip from my tutor so please with the purchase
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