Michael E. Porter

Bishop William Lawrence University Professor

Michael E. Porter is the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, based at Harvard Business School. A University professorship is the highest professional recognition that can be given to a Harvard faculty member. Professor Porter is but the fourth faculty member from Harvard Business School to earn this distinction.

Professor Porter is a leading authority on competitive strategy and international competitiveness. He received a B.S.E. with high honors in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University in 1969, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He also received an M.B.A. with high distinction in 1971 from the Harvard Business School, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar, and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University in 1973.

Professor Porter joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1973. His ideas have now become the foundation for one of the required courses at the School. Professor Porter teaches strategy, created and leads a workshop for newly appointed chief executive officers of billion dollar+ corporations, and speaks widely on competitive strategy and international competitiveness to business and government audiences throughout the world.

Professor Porter is the author of 16 books and over 75 articles. His book, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, published in 1980, is in its 53rd printing and has been translated into seventeen languages. A companion book, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, was published in 1985 and is in its 32nd printing. His book, On Competition (1998), includes eleven articles from the Harvard Business Review, as well as two entirely new articles: 'Clusters and Competition' and 'Competing Across Locations'. The 1996 Harvard Business Review article 'What is Strategy?' is his most recent article on company strategy, and the foundation for a new strategy book due to be completed next year.

Professor Porter's 1990 book The Competitive Advantage of Nations develops a new theory of how nations, states, and regions compete and their sources of economic prosperity. The ideas in this book and a series of other publications have guided economic policy throughout the world. Professor Porter has published books about national competitiveness in New Zealand, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland. His most recent book, Can Japan Compete?, challenges long-held views about the sources of Japan's economic miracle and offers a new path for the future.

Growing out of Professor Porter's work on competitiveness is an extensive body of research on the influence of location on competition, with a special focus on the role of clusters. He has led studies on the role of private capital investment in competitiveness, including Capital Choices (1992) and Lifting All Boats (1995). Professor Porter has also co-authored a body of work on the innovative capacity of national economies, including The New Challenge to America's Prosperity: Findings from the Innovation Index (1999), 'The Determinants of National Innovative Capacity' (2000), and 'Measuring the 'Ideas' Production Function: Evidence from International Patent Output' (2000). Together with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Professor Porter also leads the research to create the Global Competitiveness Report, an annual ranking of the competitiveness and growth prospects of countries.

Drawing on his work on competitiveness, Professor Porter has conducted extensive research on economic development in America's inner cities, beginning with the Harvard Business Review article 'The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City'. In 1994, he founded The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), a non-profit, private-sector initiative formed to catalyze inner-city business development across the country. Professor Porter is Chairman and CEO of the ICIC, a national organization with a staff of about 40 professionals.

Professor Porter has also worked on the relationship between competitiveness and the natural environment. His Scientific American essay 'America's Green Strategy', arguing that competitiveness and environmental improvement were complementary, triggered a body of literature and new policy thinking. He has written a series of additional articles in this area.

Recently, Professor Porter has turned his attention to philanthropy. His Harvard Business Review article with Mark Kramer, 'Philanthropy's New Agenda: Creating Value', offers a new framework for developing strategy in foundations and other philanthropic organizations. He has co-founded and serves as senior advisor to the Center for Effective Philanthropy, an organization dedicated to improving philanthropic performance.

Professor Porter has served as a counselor on competitive strategy to many leading U.S. and international companies, among them Credit Suisse First Boston, DuPont, Entel, Edward Jones, Navistar, Procter & Gamble, and Royal Dutch Shell. He serves on the boards of directors of Parametric Technology Corporation, R&B Falcon Corporation, and Inforte Corporation and on several advisory boards of emerging companies. He has also served as a strategy advisor to community organizations including Brigham & Women's Hospital, the Institute of Contemporary Art, WGBH public television, and others.

Professor Porter is also a counselor to government. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to the President's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness, and chaired its Strategy Committee. He continues to play an active role in U.S. economic policy with Congress, the Executive Branch, and international organizations. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness, a private-sector organization made up of chief executive officers of major corporations, unions, and universities, and has provided intellectual leadership to the Council's Competitiveness Index, Clusters of Innovation, and other projects.

Professor Porter has served as an advisor to foreign nations and groups of neighboring countries. He has led major studies of the economy for the governments of such countries as India, New Zealand, Canada, and Portugal, and his ideas have inspired national competitiveness initiatives in more than a dozen other countries and subnational regions such as Catalonia, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. His thinking about economic development for groups of neighboring countries has led to work with the heads of state of the Central American countries to develop an economic strategy for that region and a project in the Baltic Rim. Professor Porter also co-founded the non-profit Center for Middle East Competitive Strategy, an effort which brings together business and government leaders from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine to advance the competitive potential of the Middle East.

Professor Porter has also assisted many state and local governments in enhancing competitiveness. His pro bono work led to a new economic strategy for Massachusetts, beginning with the report The Competitive Advantage of Massachusetts (1991). This effort resulted in new legislation, numerous state initiatives, and the creation of Governor William F. Weld's Council on Economic Growth and Technology, which Professor Porter chaired. Professor Porter has also served as a pro bono advisor to the state of Connecticut. He helped author the 1998 Cluster Bill which was passed unanimously by the Connecticut legislature, and led to a series of other state initiatives.

The awards and honors won by Professor Porter include Harvard's David A. Wells Prize in Economics for his research in industrial organization; three McKinsey Awards for the best Harvard Business Review article of the year, including a 1996 award for 'What is Strategy?'; and the 1980 Graham and Dodd Award of the Financial Analysts Federation. His book Competitive Advantage won the George R. Terry Book Award of the Academy of Management in 1985 as the outstanding contribution to management thought. In 1991, he received the Charles Coolidge Parlin Award for outstanding contribution to the field of marketing and strategy given by the American Marketing Association. Professor Porter was honored by the Massachusetts State Legislature for his work on Massachusetts competitiveness in 1991. In 1993, Professor Porter was named the Richard D. Irwin Outstanding Educator in Business Policy and Strategy by the Academy of Management. He was the 1997 recipient of the Adam Smith Award of the National Association of Business Economists, given in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the business economics profession. He was named a Fellow of the International Academy of Management in 1985 and received that group's first-ever Distinguished Award for Contribution to the Field of Management in 1998. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Management in 1988 and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in 1991. Professor Porter has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Stockholm School of Economics; Erasmus University, the Netherlands; HEC (Hautes Ecoles Commerciales), France; Universidada Tecnica de Lisboa, Portugal; Adolfo Ibanez University, Chile; INCAE, Central America; Johnson and Wales University; and Mt. Ida College.

Professor Porter was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has lived and traveled throughout the world as the son of a career Army officer. He was an all-state high school football and baseball player. At Princeton, he played intercollegiate golf and was named to the 1968 NCAA Golf All-American Team. After graduating from college, Professor Porter served through the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. He maintains a long-time interest in the esthetics and business of music and art, having worked on the problems of strategy with arts organizations and aspiring musicians. His wife Deborah founded a non-profit program called Career Paths, which placed promising inner-city high school students in summer internships in professional work environments, and served as volunteer coordinator for Boston's Franklin Park Zoo. The Porters live with their two daughters, Ilana (13) and Sonia (11) in Brookline, Massachusetts.


Michael E. Porter