Michael E. Porter’s article, the five competitive forces that shape strategy, is an article that dissects the true underlying factors of competition and industrial structure. Throughout the context of the article, Porter thoroughly explains how competition and profitability does not only derive from production of goods and services or the level of sophistication of a firm. Instead, he claims that in order for an industry to be truly competitive and profitable, the industry as a whole must hold a solid structure. Porter educates the audience by introducing the five key forces of strategy that will essentially lead to a firm’s prevalence of competitiveness. He labels these forces as direct competition, customers, suppliers, potential entrants, and substitute products. Porter claims that each of these forces of competition plays their roles within any competitive and even temporarily non-competitive industry.
Porter’s main lesson for his audience is that in order for an individual firm or an industry to succeed, it must strategically know how to react to any shift within the industry, whether its competitiveness, supply and demand, economical issues, potential entrants, or even natural issues. Porter also strives to explain how a company could or could not earn a return on investment based on the intensity of the competition within the industry. All in all, Porter explicitly explains each of the five forces that shape an industries competition with a breakdown of different factors for each force, as well as real life examples that make the topic very clear for the audience to understand his lesson.
Analysis of the Lesson:
Of the five forces, Porter clearly educated the reader about the importance of potential entrants and their threat to an industry. I felt that one of Porter’s greater lessons in this matter was when he described the seven major sources of entry barriers, and how an incumbent can strategize to react to the competitiveness of the industry if a desired entrant were to exist. One aspect that really sparked my interest was when Porter went about explaining the entrant’s hesitancy of entering into an industry based on the level of retaliation from the existing firms within the market. On the other hand, it was also interesting to know that the entrant could also alarm the incumbents, when the entrant has a large amount of capital to invest as they enter from another market which they succeeded in.
Another force that Porter dissected is what most people would think of in reaction to the term competition, and that is direct competition of one firm and another, or for the lack of a better word, rivalry. Porter made a statement, and that was, “The degree to which rivalry drives down an industry’s profit potential depends, first, on the intensity with which companies compete and, second, on the basis on which they compete.” As Porter discussed the different factors that affect the intensity of a rivalry, he noted that intense rivalry tends to destruct profitability if the battle between two firms is focusing solely on price because at that point, price competition is simply transferring profits directly from an industry to its customers, which will ultimately result in the degradation of an industry. I couldn’t agree more with Porter about the fact that when it comes to rivalry between multiple firms, the industry can find an advantage when each competitor aims to serve the needs of different customer segments, by focusing on a variety of price, products, services, features, or brand identities.
Most people would think of a rivalry in terms of competition, and not necessarily take the time to think of other factors that are just as important when it comes to an industry’s competitiveness. Many are so focused on what goes on within their own market that they forget to acknowledge the outside forces until it slaps a firm...