On Competition

Michael E. Porter, Author
Michael E. Porter, Author Harvard Business School Press $35.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-87584-795-5
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Twenty years of studying industry performance and competitiveness have convinced Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School and a noted authority on competition and corporate strategy, that a successful company must not only adopt the best practices available but also differentiate itself from its rivals. In 13 essays, some of which have appeared elsewhere, Porter elegantly lays out a sophisticated analytical framework for assessing the challenges firms face in today's business environment. Although Porter offers no magic formula for success, as a starting point for developing a long-term strategy, he does recommend close scrutiny of ""factor conditions,"" ""demand conditions,"" other competing and supporting industries and existing strategies and structures. Porter shows how companies have bested international competitors by forging integrated global strategies, operating with a long-term outlook, investing aggressively and managing factories carefully. He has also come to see the growing importance of geographical location to specific companies and celebrates the benefits of clusters--systems of interconnected firms and institutions--for increased productivity and innovation. On the societal level, Porter's work, with its emphasis on long-term planning, brings a welcome new perspective to perennially thorny policy issues such as environmental protection, inner-city development and universal access to health care. While this book requires a serious investment of time and effort, its expert dissection of a very complex phenomenon is worth it. Line drawings throughout. (Nov.)
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