Strategy is well explained as the effective use of well laid out plans to achieve success. It is no less of spectacle to attribute strategy to individual achievement, achievement from a company, a country or at the very least a non – financial institute to achieve strategic success. Ford Motor Company has in recent times lost its market share to emerging Asian companies such as Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Nissan. As a new landscape of economic might surfaces, new car stereotypes are emerging. Finding a place in these segments is proving difficult for Ford Motors and hence need to change its strategies.
Hyper-competition combined with tough economic times has pushed Ford to the edge of insolvency. This paper examines the issues that plague the company while using published models to make analysis on how and why the problems occur to better understand their potential impact on the company’s sustainable competitive advantage. Recommendations will seek to give strategic solutions to address the issues identified earlier. This research isn’t structured upon models to identify, analyze and solve issues but rather looks at the core of the problems within Ford Motors and provides models to analyze and solve the issues.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Contents INTRODUCTION1 SECTION 1: STRATEGIC ISSUES AT FORD2 Underlying Issues at Ford Motor2 1. Financial3 2. Competition4 SECTION 2: STRATEGIC MODELS AND FRAMEWORK SUITABLE FOR ISSUES IDENTIFIED6 2. 1. Competitor Analysis6 2. 1. 1Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis7 2. 1. 2SWOT ANALYSIS11 2. 2Financial Analysis13 SECTION 3: RECOMMENDATIONS18 3. 1 Factory and Supply Chain Management19 3. 2 Product Differentiation19 3. 3 Expand Asian Market Share while shifting production to Mexico20
3. 4 Divest Volvo and Prepare for Liquidation of Chrysler and GM21 REFERENCES22 BIBLIOGRAPHY25 APPENDIX A: COMPANY OVERVIEW26 A. 1 History26 A. 2 Business Model and Market Overview27 A. 3 Strategic Framework of Ford Motor Company:27 APPENDIX B: NATURE OF STRATEGIC ISSUES AND HOW THEY RELATE TO FORD’S CURRENT STRATEGIES31 APPENDIX C: SWOT AND EXTERNAL ANALYSIS FOR FORD MOTORS34 C. 1. SWOT34 C. 2. PORTERS 5 FORCES ANALYSIS36 C. 3. Balanced Score card For Ford Motor Company38 APPENDIX D: STRATEGIC RECOMMENDATION FOR FORD MOTOR39 D.
1 Strategic Recommendations39 INTRODUCTION Ford Motor Company has had its fair share of success and has positioned itself as a premier U. S brand. But as witnessed by any other company, the lifecycle of Ford has edged towards decline to reflect the realities of the factors that surround the industry in which it operates. In the years following the 2008 financial meltdown, Ford was operating in a comfortable but challenging position in the auto industry, which has since been blemished by the near collapse of the company as a result of global recession.
With competition from Asian companies rife and a faltering economy, Ford is left with a huge task of formulating a strategy that will not only sustain its existence in the industry but to put it ahead of competition. SECTION 1: STRATEGIC ISSUES AT FORD Recent financial stand of Ford Motor Company has shown improved earnings of around $2,717,000,000 FYE 2009, sales of automotive have seen a significant fall to 4,817,000,000 units sold worldwide, a 13% fall from previous year as shown in Ford (2009) annual report.
As the only automobile company not to have been a participant in the TARP program as mentioned by Grant (2010), Ford had narrowly salvaged its position as one of the most powerful brands in automobile industry. Ford faces some pressing strategic issues which will be looked at in order to find the strategies that will address these issues. Underlying Issues at Ford Motor As most of Ford Motors problem are as a result of 2008 downturn, the business level strategy accounts for most of the issues at the company.
Given that most companies at a maturity level face corporate level strategy issues, the author thinks Ford’s CEO Allan Mulally has proven to be a competent leader given the circumstances. The uniqueness of the strategic issues at Ford are based on the market conditions. 1. Financial 2. Sales 3. Product line 4. Competition Given how inter-related these issues are, the author decides to focus on the main underlying issues as highlighted in the case study; that is financial and competition issues.
Sales and narrow product line are more on a business level as opposed to financial and competition which are more corporate in this context. Figure 1: Illustration of Ford strategic issues (sourced from Suleiman) 1. Financial Weak balanced sheet poses a huge financial problem to Ford as it brushes with near insolvency in 2008 which could have seen the company file for bankruptcy. Drop in revenue means the company has a small profitability and has to collateralize its asset to stay liquidated. This is an issue for Ford because of the size of the company and the nature of its operations depends largely to close-fit financing.
As it deals with thousands of suppliers with massive overhead expenditure, Ford relies heavily on efficiencies to maintain a sustainable margin to keep its investors as well as its operations. With a weaker balanced sheet, the most pressing issue faced by Ford Motor is its resource allocation. The company literally had to put up its famous blue logo as collateral, along with most of its assets to stay liquidated. The impact of a weak financial position is not very difficult to comprehend. GM and Chrysler, world’s second and thirteenth largest automobile manufacturers respectively, had to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
A weak financial position makes Ford susceptible to insolvency, which will affect its cost of capital, forcing to company to place in more collateral and pay high interest rates for funding. This will cause a ripple effect on Fords production, employees, R&D at a time where its main rivals are putting more of their capital into hybrid technology forcing a resource allocation restructuring directly affecting the company’s ROI. 2. Competition As emerging markets account for larger share of world economy, competition to capture those markets provides opportunities for both product and market development.
Ford has been slow in tapping into these markets and has led Asian car makers to not only capture those markets but also appease to Fords current market in North America and Europe pushing the company further towards decline in market share. In whichever angle one views Ford objectives, sales and profitability is obvious, staying ahead of competition then is very critical to its short-term and long-term sustainability. It will be almost impossible to believe the number one luxury car manufacturer in America in Lexus, especially as the big three automobile companies account for about 60% of total vehicles sold in the country.
Combination of cost leadership, innovation and segmentation has given Asian auto companies a grip in the world’s auto market, which only materialized in a matter of two decades. Oblivious strategies focusing less on global market development has resulted in significant loss of market share by Ford Motors to its rivals mostly from Asia. The impact of competition as a strategic issue is clear cut in an industry as matured as the automobile.
Losing competitiveness paves way for rivals to present their offerings as substitutes, which given the price advantage Asian rivals have, switching cost for consumers is reduced and they easily position themselves as popular choice. This will dramatically shape the industry and will force companies like Ford to consider fewer segments where their products are no longer patronized. This in turn will affect the product line of the company, not that its anything fascinating as it is, and ultimately cause further fall in sales, resulting in a dismal financial performance.
Nature of Strategic Issues and its Relationship with Current Strategies Figure 2: Fords “One Ford Annual Plan” (excerpt: Ford Motor Company, 2009 annual report) To better understand how these issues identified came about, the author looked at Ford’s current strategies and then relates them to the issues. In this case, the author found current Ford strategies doesn’t go far enough to expand its regional segments. Prioritization of emerging markets would have addressed the issues of competition as Ford can use its strong brand to maintain a sustainable level of competition.
Further arguments can be found in Appendix B. SECTION 2: STRATEGIC MODELS AND FRAMEWORK SUITABLE FOR ISSUES IDENTIFIED Slack and Lewis (2008) discussed strategy from operational point of view arguing for a sustainable strategy, there has to be a consideration of fit, sustainability and risk. Ford Motor as a manufacturing company reconciles its strategies to align its resources together with customer requirements (Ford Motor Company, 2009 Report) making it one of the largest Automobile companies in the World.
3. 1. Competitor Analysis Porter (2008) outlined four additional competitive forces that hurt profits. These forces; to a larger extent defines the reality of competition in the auto industry, Ford lack of competitiveness can be defined by these new forces. 2. 1. 1 Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis As major economies grapple with the scar of the 2008 financial tsunami, governments are now taking charge of industry playing fields, especially as they were involved in massive bailouts of these companies. The influencing factors that govern overall business system are governed by local governments.
These factors are defined by Porter (1990) as imposed urgency to innovate to compete with companies in direct competition. As protectionism grows, Porters 5 forces analysis best describes the competitive forces Ford faces in entering new markets. Boscor and Bratucu (2010) argued “Poor markets are important source for global innovation and for sustainable ideas, business models and technologies that can work across developed and developing markets” Ford Motors have failed to take full advantage of Base of the Pyramid strategy (Boscor and Bratucu, 2010) to segment new customers in new markets.
As a result, its push for a global car strategy never achieved the goals it was set to achieve. Porters 5 forces look further into the factors that stifled competition for Ford especially in Asian markets. Table 1: Significance of Porters 5 Forces analysis (sourced from Suleiman) [Detailed explanation of each of Porters 5 forces affecting Ford can be found in Appendix B: Porter’s 5 forces analysis] Innovation and supply chain centralization defined the way of doing business evident from its early virtual assembly lines which caused major waves that enhanced its competitive advantage.
With advent of Toyota Manufacturing system, followed by lean and agile supply chain, Ford’s centralized supply chain became its major setback as likes of Honda, Toyota and Nissan have grown as a result of ability to provide products at lower prices with their smaller and more efficient vehicles. Economies of scale in such companies remain un-rivaled due to lower labor cost, giving them competitive edge. Ford was unable to maintain its market share as rivals enter into newer markets with wider segments. Chart 1: ford market share compared to rival (Excerpt from Ford Motor Company 2008 form 10K) In the U.
S. where Ford maintains a strong positioning, there are differences in profit per vehicle sold. Estimates from Harbor Report, reported by Priddle (2008) show Ford loses $1,467 for each vehicle sold, GM lost $729 whereas Toyota makes $922 profit for each vehicle it sells. Ford isn’t doing any better in Europe as main rivals maintain an increased spread between annual sales numbers. Chart 2: Ford Sales compared to main European rivals (Sourced from European Automobile Manufacturers Association, 2008) With gasoline as compliment for cars, hike in prices especially in 2008 had a profound impact on sales.
Demand shifted towards cars with better mileage which posed a significant challenge for Ford. Its cars were no longer as attractive as they once were compounded by its lack of focus into developing low-priced cars for poorer segments. As pressure mounts on manufacturers to reduce prices, as told by Boscor and Bratucu (2010), their products become attractive to many customers in emerging markets which could have helped Ford sales.
Chart 3: historical oil prices ( Sourced from British Petroleum Energy Survey, 2008) The effect of compliments is not a source of great concern as there’s little responsibility on the part of manufacturers in the automobile industry. 2. 1. 2 SWOT ANALYSIS Ansoff (1980) modeled SWOT to build high prioritization that builds competencies of firms and firms high prioritization of opportunities. Summary of SWOT analysis can be seen below; Strengthshigh| Weaknesshigh| Internal| OpportunitiesModerate| ThreatsHigh| external| Table 2: Summary of SWOT analysis for Ford Motors (sourced from Suleiman)
Internal analysis has shown Ford to have high strengths, not so surprising for a leading car manufacturer for about a century. Ford weaknesses however out-weigh its strengths in the sense that it hasn’t been consistently profitable which perpetuate the near collapse of the company in 2008. With an unsustainable supply chain, little market penetration in emerging markets and high fixed cost, its strengths doesn’t seem to complement the weaknesses it has. This translates into falling sales which impacts its competitiveness with a domino effect affecting its overall financial position limiting innovation and product line expansion.
Carr and Collins (2011) have classified global oligopolies as industries with moderate concentration ratios and high concentration levels which Ford falls under, are highly competitive as attempts by any one company will trigger a wave of responses from rivals. Unfortunately though, Ford hasn’t fully taken to its advantage opportunities provided by small, fuel efficient vehicles to enter into new markets. Ansoff (n. d) from his analysis of industry and company growth cycle has suggested companies in a declining stage in a slow growth industry are assumed to aggressively manage policies to take advantage of opportunities in trends.
Figure 3: Trend forecasts (Excerpt from Ansoff, n. d) Overall, threats to Ford are overwhelming which according to Ansoff Matrix (n. d) should consider product and market development. Figure 4: business growth alternative strategies (Excerpts from Ansoff, n. d) Competitive advantage is difficult to attain as Ford Motors concentrate more on market penetration in the U. S and Europe, where recession was hard hit and took a toll on number of sales in those markets. 2. 1 Financial Analysis Marle (2011) discussed about preparing for a black swan, as a prognosis for unpredictable events.
However, he noted that a disruptor analysis which cannot predict black swans but complements ERM serves to administer stress test. The early 21st century dot-com bubble gave birth almost immediately to another bubble after it burst, which is the credit crunch/ subprime mortgage. Ford Motors did not foresee any structural impediments in the financial system and therefore did not consider stress testing itself. Result of that was serious financial damage caused as the impaired system unraveled. Revenues for Ford motors took a heat as sales plummeted.
Soon after the emergence of unforeseen financial crisis was the emergence of Toyota taking Fords place as the second largest car manufacturer in the world. Its market cap of approx. $10 billion fell together with equity valuation of the company performing worse than GM. Chart 4: Historical stock valuation of Ford Motors relative to its main rivals (sourced from yahoo finance) Implementation of contingency plan as suggested by Marle (2011) would have given Ford ability to mitigate hike in commodity prices which affected the company’s profitability due to high costs especially in North America.
Chart 5: Ford profit/ loss by region (Sourced from Ford 2008 Annual report) Massive losses were recorded by Ford in the years 2006-2008 as the credit crisis reached its peak with profound effect from North America, and Ford’s Volvo business division. Asian markets witnessed a slight loss as Ford depends on American suppliers for parts, also affected by the recession. Some companies’ failure to face the real problem culminated from bad strategy as investigated by Rumelt (2011), resulted in Ford’s weakened financial stand. Downsizing initiated by Ford since 2004 paved the way for Toyota and GM to gain market share, evidenced by 38.
8% fall in sales from first quarter of 2009 compared to previous year. This came at a time when Ford should have implemented pricing strategy as suggested by Boscor and Bratucu (2010) which re-examines relation between price-performance for products and services. Kaplan and Norton (1996) came up with the balanced score card strategy to assess the performance of businesses through key performance Indicators. Shaping key factors in the balanced score card; customer and financial perspective which concerns how the company its customers and stake holders was misrepresented in the strategy.
As all factors need to be balanced, Ford Motors pay less attention to the effect of its lack of innovation and poor performance, thereby resulting in a backlash from consumer who switched to substitutes and stakeholders, who lost confident in the company’s vision and strategy. The DuPont analysis popular with multi-billion dollar companies as technique for strategic analysis focuses on operations, assets and capital management (Bernhardt, 2009) makes benchmarking easier and rather meaningful. Ford’s internal strengths has resulted in a blindside resulting in failure to detect threats in the hypercompetitive industry.
As Ford motor restricts itself to the old fashioned financial and strategic analysis championed by Henry Ford, Resource allocation which would have otherwise been used efficiently and effectively caused the company’s dismal performance shown below. Table 2: EPS and dividend per share of Ford Motor (adapted from cnnmoney) Key ratios for Ford Motor also shows total bad returns (except 2006), but shows efforts to cut costs which saved the company from bankruptcy. Table 3: Key Ratios for Ford Motors (Sources: Thomson Ratios, cnnmoney and Ford Motors annual report)
SECTION 3: RECOMMENDATIONS After carefully analyzing strategic issues faced by Ford Motors, the author has discovered what he calls “disruptive changes” which are as a result of revolution in technology, globalization and fast emerging business methods. These changes can therefore turn firm’s competitive advantages into barriers that could stifle future success. The result is a new wave of thoughts about and goals of strategies (Miller and Morris, 1999; Brown and Eisenhardt 1998; Christensen and Overdorf 2000; D’Aveni, 1994) which should be the new course for Ford Motors.
Ford need to move away from its traditional and to some extent dysfunctional-conventional strategy theme and adopt newer and innovative ones. The context of argument for a solution to Ford’s problems is to determine how effective is its corporate level strategy and its impact on business levels, argued by the author. Chandler (1962), the man who transformed GM into World’s biggest industrial enterprise, argued corporate strategy has transformed into complex carefully drawn plan based upon forecasts of specific markets and the broader economies.
The author is with a firm belief that Ford should take necessary steps to achieve short term survival and ensure profitability in the fiscal year 2011. The author reached this conclusion based on Hamel and Prahalad (1994) contentious arguments that turn conventional business thinking by challenging assumptions that company’s strategy is by aligning resources with opportunities but by setting goals which stretch beyond managers’ belief. A study on paradox of Samsung’s rise by Khanna, Song and Lee (2011) proves an organization can move beyond their home markets and become a global leader as should be the case for Ford.
Looking at how they achieved that level of success is a discovery of hybrid management system which could potentially benefit Ford Motor Company. With a very strong and potent local culture, Ford Motors can complement that with successful Asian model, especially the Japanese (Liker and Choi, 2004) to create a system that will not only sustain Ford competence in a short term but builds a platform for iteration of business models for a longer term sustainable core competence.
The author, having reviewed Ford management headed by Mulally is convinced management of Ford Motors are on the right track, however recent progress is absolutely tentative and could easily deteriorate given current industry as well as market conditions. After critically evaluating the strategic issues and how they come about, the author drew the following recommendations based on suggested made by academic scholars. 3. 1 Factory and Supply Chain Management Marksides (2000) argues that to develop superior strategy, it requires companies to try “part timing” and “part trial and error”.
This is particularly true especially given how Henry Ford cultivated a strategy of buying over suppliers from main components to the most indirect supply of rubber seed for tires. Not all of Henry’s Ford 1920’s adventures were positive but the idea of “logical incrementalism” as argued by (Quinn, 1980) proves that the entire set up of Ford Motor Factory and supply chain management should be restructured away from traditional American models. Evaluation of Ford’s 1600 suppliers with particular attention to Visteon, its largest worldwide supplier which is under financial distress should be taken seriously.
At one point, Ford vertically integrated Visteon and saved the company. Ford now more than ever needs to vertically integrate most of its underperforming supplies and spin off ones with high power as explained in Porters 5 forces analysis. Joskow (2003) research argued companies that vertically integrate, reflects the presence of market power and/or efforts of that company to exploit it. This will be costly on a short term, but will potentially increase sales and turn profitable in long run.
Ford should also go ahead with the planned shutdown of some of its costly factory plants and start considering opening plants in Asia to take advantage of cheap labor and easy access to raw materials. 3. 2 Product Differentiation Successful American firms have a history of implementing strategies that create multi-divisional units which Chandler (1962) argues is unsustainable overtime. These strategies were subject of criticism in that critics argue are too irrational and based solely-upon a profit driven orientation.
Porter (2008) suggested a firm should adopt differentiation strategy when it strives to keep uniqueness of its products in scope of industry. Ford Motor should formulate a strategy based upon Ansoff (1980) matrix by developing its products and market reach. This is a tough undertaking especially in hypercompetitive industry like the auto industry. The author suggests a differentiation strategy can bolster such strategy given the strength of Ford Motor as shown in SWOT analysis (Appendix C1).
In recent research by Akan et al (2006) three tactics have been identified for companies that were successful in differentiation strategy which can have a significant relation to Ford organizational performance. These marketing technology and methods innovation, fostering creativity and innovation as well as building high market share. The current “One Ford” strategy appears sound and cogent but risks being over-pursued after the author identified it to be too broad and internally focused. Differentiating regionally is imperative to ensure Ford brands are sufficiently towards what the author call “disparate” global preference.
3. 3 Expand Asian Market Share while shifting production to Mexico Given the high labor cost in the highest production labor and disputes with UAW in the U. S, Ford motors should consider moving most of its operations to Asia and Mexico, in a long-run where labor costs are relatively cheaper. Chart 6: Ford Motor Production by region (Adapted from Wiley Online Library) Altman and Rego (2009) lessons from opportunities of BOP have identified companies respond to market needs with design thinking, which is the exact course Ford Motors ought to be taking. Through strategic alliances and joint
ventures with local companies to enhance strategic resources and self-sufficiency according to Serrat (2009) of Asian Development Bank, is a prudent way for Ford to provide its offering mix to these emerging markets. As Chinese demand for vehicles keeps rising, GM, Mercedes, Volkswagen, BMW have seen their fair share of success leaving out Ford lagging behind. Porters (1980) argument about firm’s primary task is to find niche that it can defend from competitors by differentiating presents and apparent opportunity for Ford Motors in Indian and Chinese markets that claim the highest automobile stereotypes.
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