Strategic capabilities

Strategic capabilities
See also

Strategic capabilities include 4 various dimensions of company resources:

Strategic capabilities in support of competitive advantage[edit]

Management needs strategic capabilities to support value-creating strategies to establish competitive advantage, with the goal of creating a sustained financial performance. Porter argues that companies use strategic capabilities to create three key functions that allow them to obtain a sustained competitive advantage:

  • Operational effectiveness, which means performing certain activities better than competition (faster or with fewer resources),
  • Strategic positioning, which is a unique and valuable position in the market place that allows a company to differentiate from competition. Strategic positioning is key as it is aimed to “achieve sustainable competitive advantage by preserving what is distractive about a company.” Simply put, it means engaging in different activities than competition or engaging in similar activities but in different ways,
  • Operational “fit,” which is necessary to ensure that processes interact and reinforce each other[1].

Not all strategic capabilities or firm resources have the potential to create a competitive advantage or sustained financial performance. Barney argues that a firm resource must have the following key attributes to be able to accomplish that:

  • It must be valuable – the resource exploits opportunities (helps in executing new strategies that improve efficiency and effectiveness) or protects from threats from the external environment,
  • it must be rate – the current or future competition does not have it. This could entail a bundle of resources that are unique to the company and which competitors lack,
  • it is “imperfectly imitable” – competitors are not able to copy the idea/resource. These resources are present when a company is innovating, and competitors are not able to copy the innovation because they lack appropriate technological capabilities to do so,
  • there are no substitutes for the resource[2]

Studies have been completed to determine the impact of a firm's environment on its competitive position. Certain studies suggest that companies must continuously change or evolve their strategic capabilities when faced with technological uncertainties and rapidly changing environment. Teece argues that only those companies that have dynamic capabilities may create a sustained competitive advantage. Management must be willing to update and redesign existing strategic capabilities to be able to seize opportunities arising from technological and environmental changes and keep up with evolving customer needs[3].



Author: Urszula Szydłowska

  1. Porter, M. (1996)
  2. Barney, J. (1991)
  3. Teece, D. (2007)