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Updated Nov 03, 2023

Management Theory of Michael Porter

Michael Porter’s theory can help you build a more competitive management strategy.

Danielle Fallon O'Leary
Danielle Fallon-O’Leary, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

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Michael Porter’s management theory offers a practical framework that has helped numerous organizations navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape. Porter’s insights and models, such as the Five Forces, expectancy theory and value chain analysis, provide a roadmap for achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. 

By understanding and applying Porter’s principles, organizations can make informed decisions, identify competitive advantages and drive their businesses toward long-term growth and profitability.

The management theory of Michael Porter

Porter’s theory focuses on several major models. The most practical are expectancy theory, value chain analysis and the Five Forces Model.

Expectancy theory

Through expectancy theory, Porter codified the major factors that affect an employee’s motivation to perform. He stated that numerous factors fuel an employee’s efforts to reach an organizational goal, including the expectation that performance will yield positive rewards and that rewards will match effort. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Like Porter, Edgar Schein’s work focuses on building a strong organizational culture.

Value chain analysis

Through value chain analysis, Porter defined effective supply chain management, presenting a model that categorizes the activities that form a company’s product-delivery system as either primary or support activities and showing how they work together to build profit. Both models, along with Porter’s more complex Five Forces model, form the heart of his Strategic Management Theory.

Porter’s Five Forces

The Five Forces model analyzes competitive forces within an industry. It identifies key areas that help organizations understand the dynamics of their industry and develop business management strategies to gain a competitive advantage. The five forces can be consolidated and summed up as follows:

  1. Bargaining power of suppliers 

The bargaining power of suppliers assesses the influence suppliers have over an organization. Factors such as the availability of alternative suppliers, the uniqueness of their products or services, and their ability to dictate terms and prices affect the organization’s strategic position.

  1. Bargaining power of buyers

Likewise, the bargaining power of buyers is also examined to determine an organization’s sensitivity to price changes and its ability to set prices and maintain profitability.

  1. Threat of new entrants

The threat of new entrants evaluates the likelihood of new competitors entering the industry. Barriers to entry determine the potential threat posed by new entrants, including:

  • Economies of scale
  • Brand loyalty
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Access to distribution channels
  1. Threat of substitute products or services

Meanwhile, the threat of substitute products or services considers the availability of alternatives that can fulfill the same customer needs currently being filled by an organization. The ease of substitution and the perceived value of alternatives affect the organization’s pricing power and market share.

  1. Intensity of competitive rivalry

Finally, this last force examines the level of competition within the industry. Factors such as the number and diversity of competitors, market growth rate, differentiation strategies and exit barriers influence the intensity of competition and its effect on the profitability of an organization.

​​Tips for implementing Porter’s management theory

Gain a thorough understanding of Porter’s management theory.

Numerous websites provide valuable information about Porter’s theory. In addition to diagrams and summaries of Porter’s management principles, you’ll find various videos and instructional materials that can help you develop the background knowledge and practical expertise to put Porter’s theories to work for your company.

Compare and contrast other theories of management. 

To effectively implement Porter’s management theory, it’s important to explore and compare other prominent management theories. Theorists such as Edgar Schein, Henry Mintzberg, Mary Parker Follett and Frederick Taylor all offer different perspectives worth considering.

Taylor, known for his scientific management theory, emphasizes optimizing work processes for efficiency and productivity. Meanwhile, Mintzberg’s ideas challenge the traditional view of management, highlighting the importance of managerial roles, behaviors and decision-making in real-world situations.

FYIDid you know
Frederick Taylor’s classical management theory, also known as scientific management theory, sets general principles for organization management and focuses on optimizing work processes for efficiency.

When researching these theories, keep your own business in mind and consider your current company culture and how it could benefit (or not) from organizational change. By familiarizing yourself with these theories and their perspectives, you can gain a well-rounded understanding of management principles and leverage valuable insights to inform your strategic decision-making within Porter’s management theory.

Hire a consultant to help you put Porter’s management theory into practice.

Consultants with knowledge of and experience with the management theory of Michael Porter can guide you in maximizing the benefits of his principles in your own company’s unique environment. Accenture, a firm with offices in 10 states, for example, provides strategy consulting services that can help you put Porter’s theories to work to increase your company’s profitability.

Look for tools that will help you put Porter theory to work.

Widely available online tools and resources can help you more easily implement Porter’s management principles. Software programs, information and studies are some of the valuable resources you’ll find for your business.

The Institute for Enterprise Architecture Developments (IFEAD), for example, features numerous tools to help you optimize your business strategy, including certification and education programs. Be sure to take advantage of as many online tools and resources as possible to develop a clear understanding of the value that Porter’s theories can have for your company.

Monitor and adapt.

Put Porter’s theories to practice and continuously monitor changes in your industry, competitive landscape and customer preferences. Regularly assess the effectiveness of your strategies, making necessary adjustments where needed. Stay agile and responsive to market dynamics, and maintain a proactive approach to strategic management.

Adopt a customer-centric approach.

Understand your customers’ needs, preferences and buying behaviors. Tailor your products, services and marketing strategies to meet those needs effectively. Build strong relationships with customers, enhance customer satisfaction and differentiate your offerings based on customer value. 

Foster strategic partnerships and emphasize innovation.

Identify potential partners, suppliers or distributors who can enhance your value chain or provide other strategic advantages. Cultivate strong relationships and collaborative partnerships that enable shared benefits, resource sharing and mutually beneficial outcomes. 

This will help foster a culture of innovation within your organization. Encourage employees to generate and implement creative ideas that drive product development, process improvement and market differentiation. Stay attuned to market trends and technological advancements, and adapt your strategies accordingly.

TipBottom line
Mary Parker Follett’s management theory aligns with Porter’s focus on collaboration and recognizing employees as valuable contributors.

Invest in employee development.

Prioritize the development of your employees’ skills, knowledge and capabilities. Provide training, professional growth opportunities and a supportive work environment. Empower employees to contribute their ideas, take ownership and align their efforts with organizational goals. Finally, don’t be afraid to do what works best for your organization while still taking inspiration from other sources. For example, if efficiency is what your business needs, you might want to read up on Frank and Lillian Gilbreth’s theory of management.

Danielle Fallon O'Leary
Danielle Fallon-O’Leary, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Danielle Fallon-O'Leary is a longtime marketer with a passion for helping clients strengthen their online brands. She has managed clients' social media accounts, developed marketing campaigns and compiled key data for analytics reports. Other projects have included newsletter curation, workflow management and search engine optimization. Along with her marketing responsibilities, Fallon-O'Leary has had an up-close look at other aspects of small business operations, including invoicing and accounting, employee recruitment and training.
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