What Is Porter’s Diamond Model And Why It Matters In Business

Porter’s Diamond Model is a diamond-shaped framework that explains why specific industries in a nation become internationally competitive while those in other nations do not. The model was first published in Michael Porter’s 1990 book The Competitive Advantage of Nations. This framework looks at the firm strategy, structure/rivalry, factor conditions, demand conditions, related and supporting industries.

Understanding Porter’s Diamond Model

Traditional economic theory suggests that factors such as land, labor, population size, and natural resources are crucial factors in a nation gaining competitive advantage.

However, Michael Porter argued that this model was a rather passive summary of economic potential and that far from creating sustained growth, the aforementioned factors may undermine any potential competitive advantage.

Instead, he proposed that four other characteristics could accurately predict whether a nation produced organizations that were competitive on the international stage. These four characteristics give Porter’s model the diamond shape for which it is known, and they are explained in the next section.

The four characteristics of Porter’s Diamond Model

1. Firm Strategy, Structure and Rivalry

This characteristic encompasses how companies are structured and managed. It also includes company objectives and the presence of competitive rivalries, if applicable. Rivalry is particularly important because it forces companies to innovate, better preparing them for the international market. 

For example, German carmakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi would not have become globally successful brands without the intense competition they face inside their native Germany.

2. Factor conditions

Factor conditions are more basic in nature and refer to unskilled labor, natural resources, and infrastructure. However, Porter argued that more advanced factor conditions such as skilled and specialist knowledge and access to capital were more important to competitive advantage.

3. Demand conditions

Demand conditions refer to the level of demand in the home market of an industry. Demand creates competition and in turn, competition creates innovation. Specific demand conditions may include market size and market sophistication. 

4. Related and supporting industries

Most large companies are only as successful as their supply chains. Indeed, most are dependent on alliances and good relationships with suppliers to make cost savings that can be passed to consumers. Nations with high concentrations of large, innovative companies who operate close to each other facilitate the spread of innovation.

For example, the cluster of tech companies in Silicon Valley, California, facilitates innovation because of the proximity of innovative and often supportive companies.

Criticisms of Porter’s Diamond Model

Given that Porter’s Model assesses competition in the relatively broad context of nations, it has been subject to criticism. 

Criticisms include:

  • Scope – when the model was developed in 1990, it included just 10 developed countries. Thus, it does not yet apply to second or third world nations.
  • Contradictory evidence – there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that the competitiveness of a nation has many external influences that Porter does not account for.
  • Industry selective – Porter’s original analysis focused on the banking sector, consultancy firms and manufacturers. Some academics have questioned whether the model is at all relevant to the many large and influential global service companies such as McDonald’s.

Key takeaways:

  • Porter’s Diamond Model is an economic model which argues that the global competitiveness of a particular organization is dependent on the country it operates in.
  • Porter’s Diamond Model is based on four key characteristics that explain the requirements for a competitively strong nation.
  • Porter’s Diamond Model has attracted criticism for its lack of scope and focuses on select, non-service related industries.

Other frameworks by Michael Porter

Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their industries and competition. Published for the first time by Professor Michael Porter in his book “Competitive Strategy” in the 1980s. The model breaks down industries and markets by analyzing them through five forces

Porter’s Generic Strategies

In his book, “Competitive Advantage,” in 1985, Porter conceptualized the concept of competitive advantage, by looking at two key aspects. Industry attractiveness, and the company’s strategic positioning. The latter, according to Porter, can be achieved either via cost leadership, differentiation, or focus.

Porter’s Value Chain Model

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage, Porter explains that a value chain is a collection of processes that a company performs to create value for its consumers. As a result, he asserts that value chain analysis is directly linked to competitive advantage. Porter’s Value Chain Model is a strategic management tool developed by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. The tool analyses a company’s value chain – defined as the combination of processes that the company uses to make money.

Porter’s Diamond Model

Porter’s Diamond Model is a diamond-shaped framework that explains why specific industries in a nation become internationally competitive while those in other nations do not. The model was first published in Michael Porter’s 1990 book The Competitive Advantage of Nations. This framework looks at the firm strategy, structure/rivalry, factor conditions, demand conditions, related and supporting industries.

Porter’s Four Corners Analysis

Developed by American academic Michael Porter, the Four Corners Analysis helps a business understand its particular competitive landscape. The analysis is a form of competitive intelligence where a business determines its future strategy by assessing its competitors’ strategy, looking at four elements: drivers, current strategy, management assumptions, and capabilities.

More Business Frameworks

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Blitzscaling Canvas

The Blitzscaling business model canvas is a model based on the concept of Blitzscaling, which is a particular process of massive growth under uncertainty, and that prioritizes speed over efficiency and focuses on market domination to create a first-scaler advantage in a scenario of uncertainty.

Blue Ocean Strategy

A blue ocean is a strategy where the boundaries of existing markets are redefined, and new uncontested markets are created. At its core, there is value innovation, for which uncontested markets are created, where competition is made irrelevant. And the cost-value trade-off is broken. Thus, companies following a blue ocean strategy offer much more value at a lower cost for the end customers.

Business Analysis Framework

Business analysis is a research discipline that helps driving change within an organization by identifying the key elements and processes that drive value. Business analysis can also be used in Identifying new business opportunities or how to take advantage of existing business opportunities to grow your business in the marketplace.

Gap Analysis

A gap analysis helps an organization assess its alignment with strategic objectives to determine whether the current execution is in line with the company’s mission and long-term vision. Gap analyses then help reach a target performance by assisting organizations to use their resources better. A good gap analysis is a powerful tool to improve execution.

Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas is a framework proposed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in Busines Model Generation enabling the design of business models through nine building blocks comprising: key partners, key activities, value propositions, customer relationships, customer segments, critical resources, channels, cost structure, and revenue streams.

Lean Startup Canvas

The lean startup canvas is an adaptation by Ash Maurya of the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder, which adds a layer that focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics, unfair advantage based, and a unique value proposition. Thus, starting from mastering the problem rather than the solution.

Digital Marketing Circle

digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"