Competitive Advantage

Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance

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The essential complement to the pathbreaking book Competitive Strategy, Michael E. Porter's Competitive Advantage explores the underpinnings of competitive advantage in the individual firm. With over 30 printings in English and translated into thirteen languages, this second volume in Porter's landmark trilogy describes how a firm actually gains an advantage over its rivals. 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. Competitive Advantage also provides for the first time the tools to strategically segment an industry and rigorously assess the competitive logic of diversification.
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.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 592 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684841465 | 
  • June 1998
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Chapter 1: Competitive Strategy: The Core Concepts

Competition is at the core of the success or failure of firms. Competition determines the appropriateness of a firm's activities that can contribute to its performance, such as innovations, a cohesive culture, or good implementation. Competitive strategy is the search for a favorable competitive position in an industry, the fundamental arena in which competition occurs. Competitive strategy aims to establish a profitable and sustainable position against the forces that determine industry competition.

Two central questions underlie the choice of competitive strategy. The first is the... see more

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