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On competition

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On Competition, a collection of works by Michael E. Porter, is a critical examination of the dog-eat-dog international economy. A Harvard Business School professor, Porter is one of the most respected and innovative economists of his time. Author of 15 books, he advises key elected officials and business leaders in all parts of the world. On Competition features 13 of his best articles over the past 15 years, including 2 new ones. The essence of Porter's message is that every company, country, and person must master competition to thrive in brutal international and domestic economies. Competition is the key to excellence. Worried about losing your job or your services becoming obsolete? Porter believes that a little fear is good for everyone. "Companies that value stability, obedient customers, dependent suppliers and sleepy competitors are inviting inertia and, ultimately, failure," he writes in his 1990 study and essay "The Competitive Advantage of Nations." Porter is a longtime critic of the short-term thinking on Wall Street that often stifles competition and hurts the economy. In "Capital Disadvantage: America's Failing Capital Investment System," he calls for much lower capital-gains rates for people who invest for the long term. He also urges investors and businesses to start thinking together. He contends that pension funds and institutional investors should get a greater say over the companies they own. It's wacky to have company directors with little expertise or financial interest in the company, he writes. Porter is often unconventional and asserts that businessmen must be, too. In his essay "Green and Competitive," he shows little sympathy for businesses that complain about environmental regulations. Rules to protect the environment don't have to strangle companies--they can actually improve productivity with the right attitude and approach. Rhone-Poulenc, a French chemical and drug company, proved this when it stopped incinerating a certain byproduct and began selling it as an additive for dyes and tanning. Readable and provocative, On Competition is vital for business, government, and financial leaders as well as small-business people and investors. --Dan Ring
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