Competitive Advantage - Michael E Porter

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Competitive Advantage - Creating and Sustaining superior performance by Michael E Porter.

This is the second book that forms part of what I call my trilogy of core business books that I read over and over again (at least once a year). Yes as with his first book Competitive Strategy it can be considered an oldie or a classic as well, but again its lessons and principles are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published.

This again is a definite book for anyone who is into strategic business whether they be managers who have gained their knowledge and experience on the job or students studying strategic business or business management this book and its later companion Competitive Advantage (separate review) is a must.

Again only professional critics can do this book justice and I have copied their reviews below for you to consider.

"Michael Porter has a very clear view of the strategic process. He has helped us to clarify what kind of values we want to provide our customers, and how our organization can create and sustain a competitive advantage in the markets we serve. This book is a great resource and a powerful tool" - John A Young - President and Chief Executive Officer Hewlett-Packard Company.

"Competitive Advantage takes up where Competitive Strategy ends,. It goes beyond competitive analysis to show exactly how a competitive strategy can be selected and implemented. Once again, I am impressed with Porter's depth of thought. His value-chain concept has been particularly useful to us in analysing sources of competitive advantage. This book will take the strategy field on step further." - Victor Miller - Managing Partner - Practice Arthur Andersen & Co.

"Michael Porter again shows the power of scholarly thinking for industry and business leaders because it gives them strategic but practical solutions to the major issues they confront." - Dr Koji Kobayashi - Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer NEC Corporation.

"Michael Porter has done it again. Having defined the 'what' and 'why' of competitive strategy in his earlier book, he now defines the 'how' in Competitive Advantage. Porter's new book offers company strategists a rich framework on which to build their company futures. His two last chapters on attack and defensive strategy are full-dimensional, major contributions. Porter's books on competitive strategy are the seminal works in the field." - Philip Kotler - Harold T Martin Professor of Marketing - J.L.Kellogg Graduate School of Management North-western University.

Yes you may be thinking, how does this apply to me when my projects are mainly in the building and construction industry or I mainly work on IT projects or I work for the civil service. All of these are good and relevant questions and can be addressed with one simple answer.

Strategic Change Management Projects.
Change management is the fastest growing area of the project management business. Companies continually have to keep up with the benchmarks of the industry in order to remain not only competitive but to remain in business. If companies do not embrace change they will surely lose their competitive advantage and fall behind and eventually be liquidated.

It is therefore essential that modern project managers have an excellent knowledge of business strategy and change management if they are to maximise their worth to a company and of course their remuneration for their skills.

Kind Regards

Stephan Toth
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Hi there,

A great refreshing reminder of the popularity of Porters forces and competitive strategy.
In today's complex and globalised economy there has been much greater emphasis on the role a firm's resources play. The resource-based view (RBV) offers a sound explanation of the competitive advantage that a firm can have over its rival organisations.

Based on the seminal work of Penrose (1959), and then Wernerfelt (1984), this approach focuses on a firms bundle of resources and offers an explanation of why certain firms are more competitive than others, i.e how they can gain competitive advantage. The VRIN (resources must be Valuable, Rare, Inimitable, Non-substitutable) model is commonly used for such purpose.

For example, tacit knowledge is viewed as an inimitable resource. CISCO Systems buys an average of six startups a year to have access to tacit knowldge and therefore maintain a competitive advantage. Some pharmaceuticals offer to buy smaller pharmaceutical companies just to have access to specific "compounds" which allow them to keep a competitive advantage over their rivals. The right combination of resources (having a bundle of resources) by a given firm is more than likely to yield a competitive advantage. This makes Porters work a bit outdated in todays environment. Nevertheless, I think it still offers an interesting point of departure from which one can assess the evolution of competitive strategy in the organisational field.

Mohamed Benmerikhi
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