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Competitive strategies and barriers to achieving competitive advantage : a study of two Saudi Arabian industries.

Al-Awadh, Mohammed A M (1996) Competitive strategies and barriers to achieving competitive advantage : a study of two Saudi Arabian industries. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This study focuses on how organisations achieve and sustain competitive advantage and the possible barriers to this advantage. It first deals with a theoretical framework by examining related literature on developing a better understanding of competitive advantage and generic strategies, as well as the important aspects that may affect a firm's achievement and the sustainability of its competitive advantage. This study extends the strategic management literature on competitive advantage and generic strategies mainly based on Porter's (1980, 1985) work. In particular, instead of the two generic strategies (differentiation and cost leadership) put forward by Porter, four competitive strategies are developed. These are (1) price leadership, (2) low cost differentiation, (3) imitation and (4) differentiation. Barriers to competitive advantage are conceptionalised in terms of "strategic coherence" model, which has three aspects. Competitive strategies require internal consistency referred to as 'competitive coherence'. In addition, 'organisational coherence' needs to be built, involving the structure of internal and external elements affecting an organisation's ability to achieve its competitive advantage. The creation of this structure is not automatic. The difficulties increase with growing dynamism and complexity of the environment in which an organisation is operating. While competitive and organisational coherence might exist accidentally, the third aspect developed in this study is called 'cognitive coherence'. The lack of coherence in one or more of these aspects is a barrier to a firm achieving and sustaining its competitive advantage. Secondly, this study reports empirical evidence on the validity of the theoretical framework. This study takes the case of two different industries (petrochemical and food) in Saudi Arabia. Results indicate that all four competitive strategies are possible and statistically defined. In addition, high-performing firms, in both industries, have more strategic coherence than lower performing firms. The results suggest that high-performing firms are able not only to achieve their competitive advantage but also to sustain it over time. Moreover, in each industry, firms with different competitive strategies have different barriers to achieving their competitive advantage. These results are consistent with those found in the existing literature, lending support to the view that western strategy models seem to be applicable to developing countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Management & business studies
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Management School (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.483443
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2012 12:50
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1880

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