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Competitive Advantage of Nations Hardcover – June 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard economist Porter suggests that it is no accident that Japan leads in exporting electronics and computer-controlled machinery, Italy in fabrics and home furnishings, and the U.S. in software, medical equipment and movies. In each of the 10 countries that he and his international research team investigated, clusters of firms gained a global competitive edge by capitalizing on innovation, raising productivity, and drawing on unique elements of their country's history and character. Porter, who served on Reagan's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness, sees government's proper role as pusher and challenger, rather than as giver of subsidies to protect industries. Stressing renewed effort and competition as keys to gaining global advantage, he questions regulations that would limit competition and recommends enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws to end monopolistic mergers. This massive, impressive, salient tome is structured so that business executives, economists, policymakers and ordinary readers can turn to the sections most relevant to their needs. 50,000 first printing; first serial to Fortune.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Building on his Competitive Strategy ( LJ 10/1/80) and Competitive Advantage ( LJ 3/1/86), which dealt with competition among companies, Porter here presents a new theory to explain global success. He identifies the fundamental determinants of national competitive advantage in an industry, shows how they work together as a system, and examines "clustering," in which groups of successful firms and industries emerge in one country to gain leading positions in the world market. This important work, based upon research conducted in ten nations, provides important data for both companies and governments. Highly recommended for academic, corporate, and large public libraries.
- Leonard Grundt, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684841479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684841472
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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The author has a great writing style that made this lengthy book fun read.
Slobodan Blazeski
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in economics or business, but I dont think socialists will like what they read.
N. Mozahem
Reading this book will help you better understand how firms within industries gain a competitive advantage.
Michael Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Kroese on December 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Michael E. Porter is a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a leading authority on competition and strategic management. Porter is the author of the legendary business and management books 'Competitive Strategy' (1980), and 'Competitive Advantage' (1985). I cannot start this review without a word of warning: This book is consists of 850 pages and is thus not a quick weekend-read.
In this book, the author aims to answer the question, "Why do some social groups, economic institutions, and nations advance and prosper? ... I titled the book 'The Competitive Advantage of Nations' to highlight the crucial distinction between my broader concept of competitive advantage as a source of wealth and the nation of comparative advantage which had long dominated thinking about international competition." In order to answer this question, Porter uses his traditional extensive research methods and tools to prove his point.
The book is split up in four parts: (i) foundations; (2) industries; (3) nations; and (4) implications. In Chapter 1 - The Need for a New Paradigm, the author discusses the reasons for his research: "The central question to be answered is why do firms based in particular nations achieve international success in distinct segments and industries? The search is for the decisive characteristics of a nation that allow its firms to create and sustain competitive advantage in particular fields, that is, the competitive advantage of nations."
In Part I - Foundations, the author presents the theoretical frameworks which form the basis for the rest of the book. In Chapters 2, 3 and 4 Porter revisits most of his previous work, such as the five competitive forces, generic strategies, the value chain, and the advantages "diamond".
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Frank T. Manheim on June 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Forty to fifty years ago economists and political theorists did much armwaving about what makes nations competitive. In the past 20 years tools like analysis of patents, R&D expenditures, the numbers of scientifically educated people, have provided more quantitative insight. To these tools Porter adds realistic analyses of top industries in various countries - from shoes and couture in Italy, to Silicon Valley in the U.S. He points out that the fastest growth comes when favorable factors are concentrated in centers where diverse groups - industrial, academic, sometimes government or traditional industries come together and have intense interactions. This book glitters with insights and ideas. The author is among the leading US analysists of economic performance, heading a study discipline at Harvard and working with the National Bureau of Economic Research
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Hoke S. Shuler CEO, GlobalBusinessTraining.com on February 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Most of Michael's premises are sound; however, reality can be somewhat different.
As a CEO of a global business training company, we never go into a country or business with preconceived information, and I don't think that is what Michael is trying to accomplish with this book. I have read the other reviews, but I think the negative reviews took this book too literal.
I think Michael is trying to convey a method business owners can use to establish a template for diagramming and understanding the competitive determinants of an unfamiliar nation and those businesses within that nation.
Having worked in 15 countries on 4 continents, I realize (as does Micheal) that some of his work would be highly controversial. It is what it is... a format to help us understand how to draw our own conclusions to understand how a nation and its businesses compete. Michael's work is valuable and useful. I have used his template successfully over and over.
If you are trying to understand what creates a sustainable competitive advantage of any nation's businesses, you will find the template for developing your own ideas here.
To fully understand the reality of international life and business...you have to live it.If you are looking for a place to start...you've found it.
A very good book by an interesting management consultant. I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss some of his ideas with him. He sounds like an interesting and intelligent guy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Davis on May 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As an active Business Consultant I'm often appalled at the lack of disregard for the importance of strategy. It's a matter of life and death (at least for your company).

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." - Japanese proverb

Why read a book on strategy? Quite simply, to be successful. Technology and globalization culminated in ferocious competition for virtually all industries. To be competitive in today's world, you must understand that all value is derived from the customer. Therefore, you will do well to delve deep into how to create value for the customer.

Competition is becoming increasingly global. Therefore, it is in your best interest to understand how national, international, and governmental issues affect your industry and hence, your company.

Third in Porter's landmark trilogy, Competitive Advantage of Nations, somewhat different from his first two books, focuses less on industries and companies themselves, and more on how a firm actually gains an advantage over its rivals.

Competitive Advantage of Nations consists of four parts:

Part I - Foundations, presents the theoretical frameworks which form the basis for the rest of the book. In Chapters 2, 3 and 4 Porter revisits most of his previous work, such as the five competitive forces, generic strategies, the value chain, and the advantages "diamond".

Part II - Industries, frameworks of Part I are applied to explain the histories of four industries (German printing press, American patient monitoring equipment, Italian ceramic tiles, and Japanese robotics). In addition, Porter applies the frameworks to the service sector.

Part III - Nations, frameworks of Part I are applied to ten nations.
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