Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy

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If you know Porter's name but haven't yet engaged with his work, you'll find this book an easy and substantive point of entry. But even if you have encountered his ideas (perhaps in a course or an article) and you think you already "know Porter," you are likely in for a surprise.

From his classic frameworks—like the five forces, the value chain, and competitive advantage—to his newer thinking about the five tests of a good strategy, Porter's work is foundational reading for anyone in business—yet many managers remain intimidated. No longer.

Concise and refreshing, Understanding Michael Porter is the essential guide to Porter's thinking on competition and strategy. Written by Joan Magretta, longtime Porter editor and colleague, this book is clearly aimed not at scholars but at doers.

Understanding Michael Porter also features a new Q&A with Porter himself. Learn Porter's current thinking on questions faced in every workplace—from the most common strategy mistakes he sees, to challenges such as finding profitable growth, dealing with market disruption, creating new business models, and competing globally.

Porter's work has never been as timely for so many people as it is today. Master the essential Porter and you'll understand how companies sustain competitive advantages for decades—and why strategy is even more important in turbulent and uncertain times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A book on understanding Porter is worthwhile because he's often misunderstood. He is widely and rightly regarded as the all-time greatest strategy guru, but that view gets the emphasis wrong.” — Fortune magazine

“If you have always intended to read Michael Porter's groundbreaking management classics, but have never quite got around to doing so, Joan Magretta's Understanding Michael Porter does the hard work for you” – Financial Mail (South Africa)

“Magretta’s book is a timely reminder that serves to put Porter’s thinking and concepts before us again—ideas that all firms and strategy practitioners would be well-advised to study and learn from…an excellent read.” — Quality Digest

“Summing Up: Highly recommended” — CHOICE

“Joan Magretta lays out Porter’s ideas on competition in a concise, easy-to-read volume.” — Business Day (South Africa)

“The book is a great read even for those who are looking to get initiated into the Michael Porter way of thinking” — The Economic Times (India)

“Magretta adds value through fresh case studies showing how companies such as Zara, Ikea and In-N-Out Burger deploy Porter’s ideas. Written in a very accessible style, this is a book for managers rather than academics.” — The Irish Times

“Ms. Magretta does a superb job of clearly and logically explaining Prof. Porter’s concepts, with lots of helpful examples. This is a distillation, but it never feels sparse, with ample time for the reader to learn a concept and sufficient reinforcement of the ideas as you are guided through the Porter oeuvre. Reading it brings you up-to-date on his ideas and, more importantly, helps you to understand your own business and the strategic elements you may have missed.” — The Globe & Mail

“200 pages of simple, non-faddish common sense for business.” — Anna Farmery, TheEngagingBrand.com

“Book of the Month. This book will become the strategy bible for today’s busy managers.” — Business Executive

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422160596
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 12/6/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 141,155
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Magretta has worked with Michael Porter for almost two decades; she is a Senior Associate at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, a McKinsey Award winner, and author of What Management Is, a top pick of its year by The Economist. She was a Bain partner and strategy editor of the Harvard Business Review.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 What Is Competition?

1 Competition: The Right Mind-Set 19

2 The Five Forces: Competing for Profits 35

3 Competitive Advantage: The Value Chain and YourP&L 63

Part 2 What Is Strategy?

4 Creating Value: The Core 95

5 Trade-offs: The Linchpin 121

6 Fit: The Amplifier 141

7 Continuity: The Enabler 159

Epilogue: A Short List of Implications 183

FAQs: An Interview with Michael Porter 187

A Porter Glossary: Key Concepts 211

Chapter Notes and Sources 223

Index 229

About the Author 237

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2014

    I learned of this book from an article in Fortune Magazine a cou

    I learned of this book from an article in Fortune Magazine a couple of years back - an article about Michael Porter.  I had not previousy taken the opportunity to learn of him and his work.  After reading Magretta's book through the first time, I found the best way (for me at least) to introduce it to a business colleague was to have them read the introduction, then go to the back and read the FAQ's (Magretta's interview with Michael Porter), then digest the middle.  I have truly appreciated the insights and principles of Porters theory explored in the book.  I have since bought perhaps 20 or 30 copies for business colleagues just because I found answers in the book to current business problems we face in our companies.  I think any serious business manager, product manager, or brand manager is playing with a short deck if they don't have a copy of Magretta's book handy for reference, and for use in convincing someone else of a needed change.  I endorse the book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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