4 Problems with Michael Porter’s Five Forces (Asia Tech Strategy – Podcast 63)


This week’s podcast is on the well-known Five Forces framework by Michael Porter. I go through some of its limitations and where I think it works best.

You can listen to this podcast here or at iTunes, Google Podcasts and Himalaya.

Michael Porter’s five forces:

  1. Bargaining power of suppliers
  2. Bargaining power of buyers
  3. Threat of Substitutes
  4. Barriers to entry / threat of potential entrants
  5. Degree of existing competitive rivalry
  6. Role of complements?

My 4 problems with this are:

  1. It doesn’t work for dynamic and non-classical strategy terrains.
  2. It doesn’t work for platforms and ecosystems.
  3. It doesn’t work with SMILE marathon dimensions, particularly innovation.
  4. The addition of complements doesn’t really cover the emergence of a connected, digital world.

I also cited the 4 terrains from BCG:

Related podcasts and articles are:

From the Concept Library, concepts for this article are:

  • 5 Forces
  • Innovation
  • 4 Terrains and Strategies (BCG): Predictable vs. Malleable
  • SMILE Marathon


From the Company Library, companies for this article are:

  • None
This is part of Learning Goals: Level 7, with a focus on:
  • 37: Five Forces

Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash


I write, speak and consult about digital strategy and transformation.

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