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Competitive Strategy [Anglais] [Relié]

Michael E. Porter
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Chapter 1: The Structural Analysis of Industries

The essence of formulating competitive strategy is relating a company to its environment. Although the relevant environment is very broad, encompassing social as well as economic forces, the key aspect of the firm's environment is the industry or industries in which it competes. Industry structure has a strong influence in determining the competitive rules of the game as well as the strategies potentially available to the firm. Forces outside the industry are significant primarily in a relative sense; since outside forces usually affect all firms in the industry, the key is found in the differing abilities of firms to deal with them.

The intensity of competition in an industry is neither a matter of coincidence nor bad luck. Rather, competition in an industry is rooted in its underlying economic structure and goes well beyond the behavior of current competitors. The state of competition in an industry depends on five basic competitive forces. The collective strength of these forces determines the ultimate profit potential in the industry, where profit potential is measured in terms of long run return on invested capital. Not all industries have the same potential. They differ fundamentally in their ultimate profit potential as the collective strength of the forces differs; the forces range from intense in industries like tires, paper, and steel -- where no firm earns spectacular returns -- to relatively mild in industries like oil-field equipment and services, cosmetics, and toiletries -- where high returns are quite common.

This chapter will be concerned with identifying the key structural features of industries that determine the strength of the competitive forces and hence industry profitability. The goal of competitive strategy for a business unit in an industry is to find a position in the industry where the company can best defend itself against these competitive forces or can influence them in its favor. Since the collective strength of the forces may well be painfully apparent to all competitors, the key for developing strategy is to delve below the surface and analyze the sources of each. Knowledge of these underlying sources of competitive pressure highlights the critical strengths and weaknesses of the company, animates its positioning in its industry, clarifies the areas where strategic changes may yield the greatest payoff, and highlights the areas where industry trends promise to hold the greatest significance as either opportunities or threats. Understanding these sources will also prove to be useful in considering areas for diversification, though the primary focus here is on strategy in individual industries. Structural analysis is the fundamental underpinning for formulating competitive strategy and a key building block for most of the concepts in this book.

To avoid needless repetition, the term "product" rather than "product or service" will be used to refer to the output of an industry, even though the principles of structural analysis developed here apply equally to product and service businesses. Structural analysis also applies to diagnosing industry competition in any country or in an international market, though some of the institutional circumstances may differ.

Structural Determinants of the Intensity of Competition

Let us adopt the working definition of an industry as the group of firms producing products that are close substitutes for each other. In practice there is often a great deal of controversy over the appropriate definition, centering around how close substitutability needs to be in terms of product, process, or geographic market boundaries. Because we will be in a better position to treat these issues once the basic concept of structural analysis has been introduced, we will assume initially that industry boundaries have already been drawn.

Competition in an industry continually works to drive down the rate of return on invested capital toward the competitive floor rate of return, or the return that would be earned by the economist's "perfectly competitive" industry. This competitive floor, or "free market" return, is approximated by the yield on long-term government securities adjusted upward by the risk of capital loss. Investors will not tolerate returns below this rate in the long run because of their alternative of investing in other industries, and firms habitually earning less than this return will eventually go out of business. The presence of rates of return higher than the adjusted free market return serves to stimulate the inflow of capital into an industry either through new entry or through additional investment by existing competitors. The strength of the competitive forces in an industry determines the degree to which this inflow of investment occurs and drives the return to the free market level, and thus the ability of firms to sustain above-average returns.

The five competitive forces -- entry, threat of substitution, bargaining power of buyers, bargaining power of suppliers, and rivalry among current competitors -- reflect the fact that competition in an industry goes well beyond the established players. Customers, suppliers, substitutes, and potential entrants are all "competitors" to firms in the industry and may be more or less prominent depending on the particular circumstances. Competition in this broader sense might be termed extended rivalry.

All five competitive forces jointly determine the intensity of industry competition and profitability, and the strongest force or forces are governing and become crucial from the point of view of strategy formulation. For example, even a company with a very strong market position in an industry where potential entrants are no threat will earn low returns if it faces a superior, lower-cost substitute. Even with no substitutes and blocked entry, intense rivalry among existing competitors will limit potential returns. The extreme case of competitive intensity is the economist's perfectly competitive industry, where entry is free, existing firms have no bargaining power against suppliers and customers, and rivalry is unbridled because the numerous firms and products are all alike.

Different forces take on prominence, of course, in shaping competition in each industry. In the ocean-going tanker industry the key force is probably the buyers (the major oil companies), whereas in tires it is powerful original equipment (OEM) buyers coupled with tough competitors. In the steel industry the key forces are foreign competitors and substitute materials.

The underlying structure of an industry, reflected in the strength of the forces, should be distinguished from the many short-run factors that can affect competition and profitability in a transient way. For example, fluctuations in economic conditions over the business cycle influence the short-run profitability of nearly all firms in many industries, as can material shortages, strikes, spurts in demand, and the like. Although such factors may have tactical significance, the focus of the analysis of industry structure, or "structural analysis," is on identifying the basic, underlying characteristics of an industry rooted in its economics and technology that shape the arena in which competitive strategy must be set. Firms will each have unique strengths and weaknesses in dealing with industry structure, and industry structure can and does shift gradually over time. Yet understanding industry structure must be the starting point for strategic analysis.

A number of important economic and technical characteristics of an industry are critical to the strength of each competitive force. These will be discussed in turn.


New entrants to an industry bring new capacity, the desire to gain market share, and often substantial resources. Prices can be bid down or incumbents' costs inflated as a result, reducing profitability. Companies diversifying through acquisition into the industry from other markets often use their resources to cause a shake-up, as Philip Morris did with Miller beer. Thus acquisition into an industry with intent to build market position should probably be viewed as entry even though no entirely new entity is created.

The threat of entry into an industry depends on the barriers to entry that are present, coupled with the reaction from existing competitors that the entrant can expect. If barriers are high and/or the newcomer can expect sharp retaliation from entrenched competitors, the threat of entry is low.

Barriers To Entry

There are six major sources of barriers to entry:

Economies of Scale. Economies of scale refer to declines in unit costs of a product (or operation or function that goes into producing a product) as the absolute volume per period increases. Economies of scale deter entry by forcing the entrant to come in at large scale and risk strong reaction from existing firms or come in at a small scale and accept a cost disadvantage, both undesirable options. Scale economies can be present in nearly every function of a business, including manufacturing, purchasing, research and development, marketing, service network, sales force utilization, and distribution. For example, scale economies in production, research, marketing, and service are probably the key barriers to entry in the mainframe computer industry, as Xerox and General Electric sadly discovered.

Scale economies may relate to an entire functional area, as in the case of a sales force, or they may stem from particular operations or activities that are part of a functional area. For example, in the manufacture of television sets, economies of scale are large in color tube production, and they are less significant in cabinetmaking and set assembly. It is important to examine each component of costs separately for its particular relationship between unit cost and scale.

Units of multibusiness firms may be able to reap economies similar to those of scale if they are able...

Revue de presse

Fortune Three overarching game plans that work in one industry after another explain how thousands of real-world competitors come out on top.

The New York Times American executives are grasping for a logic to global competition. Mr. Porter...has given them one.

Choice Few books warrant the too-common publisher's blurb "landmark." This one does. Highest recommendation.

Strategic Management Journal Represents a quantum leap...may well be one of the most important contributions to the discipline of strategic management.

Journal of Business Strategy Any manager who studies and uses the materials in this book should be able to devise more successful strategies.

Philip Kotler S.C. Johnson & Son, Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Northwestern University Porter's books on competitive strategy are the seminal works in the field.

Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 416 pages
  • Editeur : S & S International; Édition : New edition (4 août 1998)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0684841487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684841489
  • Dimensions du produit: 24,4 x 16,2 x 3,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 20.981 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Perfect : Fast Shipping, Great Condition! 30 août 2010
Par Ujio7
A Must Have for any decision maker to be. Great analysis and model that will follow you throughout all of your life!
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5 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
C'est un tres bon livre et ca vaut le cout!
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  88 commentaires
333 internautes sur 347 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The single most important book on business strategy 11 février 2006
Par Avinash Sharma, The Yogic Manager - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Michael E. Porter is a professor at Harvard Business School and a leading authority on Strategy and Competitiveness. He did his MBA and Ph.D from Harvard. He has served as an advisor to several business and government organizations. He was also a founder of the strategy and management consulting firm, Monitor Group.
Professor Porter is best known for his landmark books that defined the field of Strategy - Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (1980) and Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance (1985). These books are must reads at the leading business schools.
I read Competitive Strategy (1980) for a Strategy course. It starts with a bang. On the very second page of the first chapter you will find the figure for the famous Five Forces Driving Industry Competition. While Porter did not intend this framework to be used for case interviews, in reality, this is a very important framework to know for the case interviews conducted by leading strategy and management consultancy firms. All top MBAs and anybody who has ever been hired by the best strategy and management consultancy firms knows this framework, and has probably read this book. The first chapter immediately proceeds to explaining each of the five forces:
1. Threat of new entrants
2. Intensity of rivalry among existing competitors
3. Pressure from substitute products
4. Bargaining power of buyers
5. Bargaining power of suppliers
While the first chapter alone is worth the cost of this book, I recommend it for the wisdom contained in the rest of the book. The chapters are organized under three parts (General Analytical Techniques, Generic Industry Environments, and Strategic Decisions). There are several thought provoking discussions on concepts such as A Framework for Competitor Analysis (Future goals, Assumptions, Current strategy, Capabilities), Market Signals and a Strategic Analysis of Vertical Integration.
This book is the single most important book on business strategy. It is a classic - like the management classics of Peter Drucker. As with every classic, the examples are old (not to be confused with outdated). But, the competition HP faced for electronic calculators in the 70s, it still faces for computers today. There have been several changes in the players, technology, industries, globalization, etc, but the foundation built by Porter's masterpieces are still relevant today.
Porter's second book Competitive Advantage (1985) introduced another important tool - The Value Chain. This analyzes primary activities (Inbound logistics, Operations, Outbound logistics, Marketing and Sales, Services) and support activities (Procurement, Technology development, Human resource management, Firm infrastructure) that firms must analyze to create value and competitive advantage.
115 internautes sur 120 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Starting point for business strategy 30 décembre 2000
Par Gerard Kroese - Publié sur
Michael Porter is a Harvard Business School professor and a leading authority on competition and strategy. This book is a landmark in the field of strategy/strategic management, which later has become known as the positioning school. The book provides a great framework.

The book consists of three parts - General Analytical Techniques, Generic Industry Environments, and Strategic Decisions. In addition, the two appendices - Portfolio Techniques in Competitor Analysis, and How to Conduct an Industry Analysis - should also be mentioned as they are very useful.

In Part I, Porter discussess the structural analysis of industries (with the world-famous five forces), the three generic competitive strategies (overall cost leadership, focus, and differentiation), an excellent framework for competitor analysis, competitive moves, strategy toward buyers and suppliers, structural analysis within industries (strategic groups, strategic mapping, mobility barriers), and industry evolution (life cycle, evolutionary processes).

In Part II, Porter discusses competitive strategy within various generic industry environments, such as fragmented industries (with no real market leader), emerging industries (e-commerce and Internet are excellent examples, although not mentioned in this book as it was written in 1980), mature industries, declining industries, and global industries.

In Part III, Porter discusses strategic decisions which businesses/firms can take, such as vertical integration (forward, backward, partnerships), capacity expansion, and entry into new industries/businesses.

Even after 20 years, most of this book still stands strong, although some people will argue this. Michael Porter has responded to his critics in the 1996-Harvard Business Review article 'What is Strategy?' which is available as e-book (pdf-file) at It is still a MUST for MBA-students and all other people interested in strategy/strategic management. The book is simple to read with plenty of examples and thus does not become a struggle.
119 internautes sur 131 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 How Important Are Competitors in Setting Future Strategy? 15 décembre 1999
Par Donald Mitchell - Publié sur
Anyone would agree that this book is the best overview of competitive strategy analysis ever written. The strength of the book is a solid outline of subjects and questions to improve your thinking, and get to be a step ahead of the competition. In highly-competitive, commodity businesses, that's usually what strategies focus on.
On the other hand, the rapid advances of knowledge and technology mean that the relevant benchmark is perfection, not the competitor, in defining an ideal best practice. In that world, this book has serious limitations, because the competitive dimension is often less important than the customer and user dimension these days.
Any business arena begins, as Peter Drucker so aptly put it, with the task "to create a customer." That reminder is especially relevant today when they are so many new ways to serve a customer's needs that no one has ever considered before. The strategic point of 'Blown to Bits' for example is that almost every business will see its vertical value chain (moving from resources through to the customer) broken apart into tiny segments each served by specialists. If you did not begin with that perspective in analyzing the impact of electronically-based business practices, you could easily focus on the wrong tasks using this book to create an over-broad strategy focus, rather than concentrating on just a few areas.
I suspect that the applications of Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law need to be explicitly considered as part of the analysis that Professor Porter is recommending.
A more general weakness in this book is that it assumes that future conditions will be stable enough to draw conclusions about which conditions will be favorable, without giving enough guidance on how to deal with the increasing frequencies and degrees of volatility that we see (in areas like financial markets, commodity prices, the weather, changing customer preferences, and so forth).
Although no book that takes such a narrow focus can help but have weaknesses (like having the podiatrist not notice that you have kidney problems), if you want a good start of how to think about competitors, this is the book for you. Just be sure you keep developing yours strategy with additional dimensions after you finish using this analysis.
If you have read none of Professor Porter's works, this is the one book you should read.
48 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Required reading for the strategist 16 janvier 2001
Par Michael G - Publié sur
When I started as a strategy consultant, Porter's Competitive Strategy and the classic five forces model within provided me with a first look at the process and mindset of the pure strategist. A weekend spent reading this book gave me the framework to intelligently analyze company strategy. I've made it required reading for all new employees.
If you are a business student (undergrad or MBA) and for some reason you have not read this, read it and assume everyone you interview with has read it. Use its basic principles in a case study interview and you'll pass with flying colors. Anyone in business of any sort should read this book and try applying it to your own business environment. Its pretty amazing how clear your business issues will appear.
Now for the negatives. It is very out of date, so do not use any of his observations on any of the industries mentioned. His case studies towards the end of the book are so irrelevant they are not worth reading, just skimming. Read his justifications carefully, since you may find yourself disagreeing with a significant percentage.
Despite its age, this is still the primer on strategy. Read this, and then read everything else.
20 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Seminal, But Academic 31 janvier 2005
Par Walter H. Bock - Publié sur
When this book was published for the first time over twenty years ago, it changed the way that people thought about strategy in business, and it gave us what has become a common language for discussing strategic situations. That's why you should consider buying the book. Without an understanding of the terminology that Michael Porter developed originally in Competitive Strategy, you won't be able to follow many of the arguments that other people use when they're talking about the subject.

When you get past that, you need to ask yourself your primary reason for reading any book on strategy. If you're looking for a "how-to" book, one with ideas that you can implement reasonably quickly, this is not the book for you. This is written by a professor and the presentation is academic. That doesn't make the insights any less valuable, but often it makes them harder to unearth.

Here's my recommendation. You should be familiar enough with Porter's basic methods and terminology to recognize and understand them in other books, articles, and discussions. If you don't have that knowledge now, buy this book and develop that understanding.

If you already have a basic knowledge of some of Porter's terminology and concepts, then this book will give you an excellent structural underpinning to take to the other books about strategy. But, if you're looking for something that you can dip into quickly to work on your company's strategic plan, find something a little less dense and academic.
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