Sources of Sustainable Competitive Advantage

  1. Size
    1. Scale
    2. Experience
    3. Scope

  2. Access (to one of the following)
    1. Know how (i.e., technological process; must be difficult to duplicate)
    2. Inputs
      1. backward integration
      2. contracts
      3. reputation/relationships
    3. Markets
      1. switching costs
      2. complementary products
      3. reputation/brand
      4. relationships

  3. Constraints on competitors
    1. Public Policy (i.e., copyrights, patents, other intellectual property protection)
    2. Defensiveness (i.e., from fear of cannibalization; not very reliable)
    3. Response lags (inflexibility, difficulty of matching initiatives; not very reliable)
From "Sustainable Advantage", Pankaj Ghemawat, Harvard Business Review, September/October 1986.

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