Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance

Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance

by Michael E. Porter, Micheal Porter
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Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance by Michael E. Porter, Micheal Porter

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684841465
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 06/01/1998
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 509,048
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.80(d)

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.

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Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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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