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Note
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Reference no. 9-798-062
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: 1998
Version: 25 February 2006
Length: 21 pages
Data source: Published sources

Abstract

A firm such as Schering-Plough that earns superior, long-run financial returns within its industry is said to enjoy a competitive advantage over its rivals. This note examines the logic of how firms create competitive advantage. It emphasizes two themes: Firstly, to create an advantage, a firm must configure itself to do something unique and valuable. The firm must ensure that, were it to disappear, someone in its network of suppliers, customers, and complementors would miss it and no one could replace it perfectly. The first section uses the concept of 'added value' to make this point more precisely. Secondly, competitive advantage usually comes from the full range of a firm's activities - from production to finance, from marketing to logistics - acting in harmony. The essence of creating advantage is finding an integrated set of choices that distinguishes a firm from its rivals. The second section shows how managers can analyze the full range of activities to understand the sources of added value.

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Abstract

A firm such as Schering-Plough that earns superior, long-run financial returns within its industry is said to enjoy a competitive advantage over its rivals. This note examines the logic of how firms create competitive advantage. It emphasizes two themes: Firstly, to create an advantage, a firm must configure itself to do something unique and valuable. The firm must ensure that, were it to disappear, someone in its network of suppliers, customers, and complementors would miss it and no one could replace it perfectly. The first section uses the concept of 'added value' to make this point more precisely. Secondly, competitive advantage usually comes from the full range of a firm's activities - from production to finance, from marketing to logistics - acting in harmony. The essence of creating advantage is finding an integrated set of choices that distinguishes a firm from its rivals. The second section shows how managers can analyze the full range of activities to understand the sources of added value.

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