The Five Forces

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The Five Forces Framework and Competitive Strategy

In this framework due to Michael Porter there are two high-level stages in the creation of competitive strategy, each stage corresponding to a high-level determinant of profitability mentioned in the previous section. The first stage is the assessment of the attractiveness of the industry in which a given company is embedded based on a structural analysis of the industry. In this stage, called the five forces framework, five forces that influence industry attractiveness are identified, as well as the factors (e.g., number of competitors, size of competitors, capital requirements) that determine the intensity of each force and therefore the cumulative intensity of the five forces. The purpose of the five forces framework is to relate the degree (or intensity) of competition in a given industry, as qualitatively measured by the combined strength (or intensity) of five forces, to the attractiveness of the industry, defined as its ability to sustain profitability. Based on the structural analysis, a particular company may be in a very attractive industry (e.g., pharmaceuticals) or in an unattractive industry (e.g., steel). However, though a firm exists in an unattractive industry, it can still be highly profitable by choosing the proper competitive position within the industry, for example, e.g., a mini-mill such as Nucor in the steel industry in the nineteen-eighties. The second stage of strategy creation addresses the competitive strategy available to the firm in order to achieve a strong competitive position. Ideally, a firm would want to be in a very attractive industry (e.g., pharmaceuticals) and have a strong competitive position (e.g., large pharmaceutical firms such as Smith Klein or Glaxo) within the industry. The five forces framework for the structural analysis of an industry is as follows. First, we define the following terms used in the structural analysis of the industry: industry, market,...
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