Kauppatieteellinen tiedekunta, 2008
Prof. Henrik Gahmberg
Master's Degree Programme in International Business
How a business achieves and sustains a competitive advantage has long been the central focus of strategic management research. The fundamental basis of long-run success of a firm is the achievement and maintenance of a sustainable competitive advantage. A firm’s competitive advantage can result either from implementing a value-creating strategy not simultaneously being employed by current or prospective competitors or through superior execution of the same strategy as competitors. Intensified competition has put managers under constant pressure to come up with the requisite strategy to be on top of the competition. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the process by which firms can attain competitive advantage. Since attaining competitive advantage alone does not guarantee the necessary long run success that firms require to survive, the study further looks at the possibility of firms to sustain their competitive advantage in order to be ahead of their rivals.
The study uses a qualitative case study. The findings are based on the market performance of three of the major players in the mobile phone industry over a ten year period. Further, in line with the framework of the study, a comparison of the value activities of the case companies was carried out in order to give meaning to the state of market performance of the case companies. It was found, that by running optimum value activities, a firm can benefit from linkages within these activities as a result of which it can offer value to its end users as a low cost or unique product provider. This serves as the means of attaining competitive advantage. Further, sustaining a firm’s competitive advantage was found to be feasible through the existence of differences in a firm’s capabilities and that of competitors.
Competitive advantage, Sustainability, Firm success