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Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance
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.
About the Author
Michael E. Porter is an economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher. Throughout his career at Harvard Business School, he has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies, including market competition and company strategy, economic development, the environment, and health care. His extensive research is widely recognized in governments, corporations, NGOs, and academic circles around the globe. His research has received numerous awards, and he is the most cited scholar today in economics and business. While Dr. Porter is, at the core, a scholar, his work has also achieved remarkable acceptance by practitioners across multiple fields.
Dr. Porter’s initial training was in aerospace engineering at Princeton University. He then earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard’s Department of Economics. His research approach—applying economic theory to complex systemic problems—reflects these multidisciplinary foundations. In 2000, Harvard Business School and Harvard University jointly established the Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness to provide a home for his research.