The Profit Chain

Starting from end of the chain, a firm makes profits by offering  products or services at a lower cost than its competitors or by offering differentiated products at premium prices that more than compensate for the extra cost of differentiation. The question is , how do low cost and differentiated products come about, and why is it that some firms can offer them better than others?

A firm’s competencies, or skills are its ability to perform the activities that underlie the offering of low cost or differentiated products or services to customers. These abilities can be in anything from designing high performance automative engines to finding attractive markets and locating the right products in the right position in these markets. Endowments are attributes other than skills, such as brand names, patents, reputation, geographic location, client relations and distribution channels, which allow a firm to leverage its competencies and get more out of them. Competencies and endowments reinforce each other and together underpin the firm’s profitability. They are themselves a function of technological and market knowledge.

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