Sustainable Competitive Advantage from Information Technology: Limitations of the Value Chain

Sustainable Competitive Advantage from Information Technology: Limitations of the Value Chain

Mark R. Nelson (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-87-2.ch002

Abstract

The strategic benefit of IT (information technology) in supporting business functions is often seen as the basis for competitive advantage that is sustainable. The value chain concept has been a handy tool widely utilized in business strategy analysis to match firm competency in performing business activities with the achievement of sustainable marketplace advantage. When it comes to the assessment of the competitive value of information technology, the value chain concept seems to either categorize IT as a support activity or to overly narrow the scope of ITs role in achieving sustainable competitive advantage. This chapter reviews the concepts of the value chain and sustainable competitive advantage. Short case studies from a number of industries are presented in order to illustrate the limitations of using the value chain to describe information technologys role in achieving sustainable competitive advantage. These examples demonstrate the subtle and often complex relationship between information technology and competitive advantage.

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