Competitive Strategy, by Michael Porter

The "Divinations" Summary / Review

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Michael Porter is perhaps the most famous strategy thinker. And rightfully so. In the late 70’s and early 80’s his work at Harvard Business School pioneered a new era. By incorporating principles from economics to predict how businesses might behave, he set out some basic theories that feel in some ways like Newton’s Laws of Motion for business.

Competitive Strategy was his first book. The description from the publisher says, quite immodestly, that it “provides an enduring foundation and grounding point on which all subsequent work can be built.” But they have a point. It’s been translated to 19 languages, and has gone through nearly 60 printings.

I don’t remember how I originally found out about Porter, but I do remember when I fell in love with his work: it was when I stumbled upon this glorious bootleg of a VHS tape that HBS sold in the 80’s.

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