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Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0684841465 ISBN-10: 0684841460 Edition: 1st

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Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance + Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors + Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684841460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684841465
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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 defines 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.

More About the Author

Michael E. Porter, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, is the author of Competitive Strategy, the recipient of the 1979 McKinsey Foundation Award for The Best Harvard Business Review Article, and a guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Professor Porter developed the much praised MBA course on Industry and Competitive Analysis, lectures widely on competitive strategy, and is a strategic consultant to numerous companies in the United States and abroad.

Customer Reviews

A great book and very practical.
This volume, Competitive Advantage, is more complex and offers methods for understanding what a firm is and does and how it creates value.
Craig Matteson
Many managers have a copy of this book on their book shelf - most have read the first 40-50 pages but no more.
Dr. David Arelette

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Peter Leerskov on April 11, 2005
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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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lars Bergstrom VINE VOICE on December 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A comprehensive introduction to how you can create advantages in your industry, even if you're not an MBA-type and just an engineer (like me). It'll also give you a useful framework for assessing what your current company and group is doing, what its vulnerabilities are, and how it relates to what the rest of the market is doing so you can make recommendations.
The only downside was the dated feel of the examples, which really made it difficult for a younger person to relate to.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By TOMASAL@BELLSOUTH.NET on August 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
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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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Kroese on December 28, 2000
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 or around this book. This book provides through the use of the value chain a very useful introduction into activities within businesses. I recommend readers to complement this book with Michael Porter's 1996-Harvard Business Review-article 'What is Strategy?' which is available as a e-book (pdf-file) at Highly recommended to anyone interested in management and business activities.
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