IN SEARCH FOR THE UNIQUE: CAN FIRM‐SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES BE EVALUATED?

Yair Aharoni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Strategy, whatever its different definitions, entails an attempt by a firm to achieve and sustain competitive advantage against other firms. Competitive advantage can be achieved if the firm is able to be different. Success is based on using a unique strategy. Success is defined as the ability to gain abnormal profits, not simply to stay alive in a competitive industry. the ability to protect the uniqueness against imitators ensures continued success. Strategy theory research is diverse, and can be divided into distinct schools of thought. Certain researchers describe the process of strategy formation. Others are prescriptive, concerned with analytical tools for strategy formulation. Among strategy content researchers, much recent research concentrates on industry analysis techniques. Since strategy is defined as the ability to gain an advantage, a cross‐sectional study of industry conditions can show the constraints on such a strategy, but is far less useful in defining how to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage. A critical aspect in understanding competitive advantage is that of the identification of firm‐specific advantages, particularly in an outlying rather than the average ‘representative’firm. the process by which managers of such firms gain insights on strategic vision often affects the results. This article calls for understanding the unique or ‐ as a minimum ‐learning to recognize uniqueness (e.g. as someone running a venture fund reviewing proposals for investment). It is concerned with how a strategy can be evaluated ex ante by outsiders to predict its probability of success. The strategy research field is not mature enough to settle on only some conceptual boxes. the article also calls for several accepted modes of investigation, including history and political behaviour, to understand better the process by which firms attempt to achieve unique advantages and the evolution of resource deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1993

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