Core Competence
(Hamel Prahalad)

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Core CompetenceThe Core Competence model of Hamel and Prahalad is a corporate strategy model that starts the strategy process by thinking about the core strengths of an organization.

Inside-out Corporate Strategy

The Outside-in approach (such as the Five Forces model from Porter) places the market, the competition, and the customer at the starting point of the strategy process. The Core Competence model does the opposite by stating that in the long run, competitiveness derives from an ability to build a Core Competence, at lower cost and more speedily than competitors. The Core Competence may result in unanticipated products. The real sources of advantage are to be found in management's ability to consolidate corporate-wide technologies and production skills into competencies, through which individual businesses can adapt quickly to changing circumstances. A Core Competence can be any combination of specific, inherent, integrated and applied knowledge, skills and attitudes.

In their article "The Core Competence of the Corporation" (1990), Prahalad and Gary Hamel dismiss the portfolio perspective as a viable approach to corporate strategy. In their view, the primacy of the Strategic Business Unit is now clearly an anachronism. Hamel and Prahalad argue that a corporation should be built around a core of shared competences. Compare: Horizontal Integration.

Business units must use and help to further develop the CC(s). The corporate center should not be just another layer of accounting, but must add value by articulating the strategic architecture that guides the process of competence building.

Three tests for identifying a Core Competence

  1. Provides potential access to a wide variety of markets.
  2. Makes a significant contribution to the benefits of the product as perceived by the customer.
  3. A CC should be difficult for competitors to imitate.

Building a Core Competence

A Core Competence is built through a process of continuous improvement and enhancement (compare: Kaizen). It should constitute the focus for corporate strategy. At this level, the goal is to build world leadership in the design and development of a particular class of product functionality. Top management can not be just another layer of accounting, but must add value by articulating the strategic architecture that guides the process of competence building.

Once top management (with the help of Strategic Business Units managers) have identified an all-embracing Core Competence, it must ask businesses to identify the projects and the people that are closely connected with it. Corporate auditors should perform an audit of the location, number, and quality of the people related to the CC. CC carriers should be brought together frequently to share ideas.

Core rigidities?

Care must be taken not to let core competencies develop into core rigidities. A Corporate Competence is difficult to learn, but is difficult to unlearn as well. Companies that have spared no effort to achieve a competence, sometimes neglect new market circumstances or demands. They risk to be locked in by choices that were made in the past.

E-Article: C.K. Prahalad, Gary Hamel - The CC of the Corporation

Book: Michael Goold, Andrew Campbell - Corporate-Level Strategy

Book: C.K. Prahalad, Gary Hamel - Competing for the Future

Special Interest Group

Core Competence Special Interest Group.

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Forum discussions about Core Competence. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

topic Always link Strategy to CC
Core competencies are the activities in which any organization does exceedingly well and they are always built over time. Therefore corporate strategies should be linked to CCs....
Comments1 comments
topic Core Competences and Porter's 5 Forces
Core competencies are like one pole of a magnet, opposite poles always attract each other. The other pole is customer's expectation's or the gap filling. How you use your CC's with ref to Porter's Fi...
topic Is CC REALLY Different from FF?
The trouble with this article and concept is that it begins by suggesting that CC is opposite to Porter's FF approach in that it places CC at the start as opposed to FF which places market, competitio...
Comments2 comments
topic Leadership & Core Competence
Resources that might be easily available will not enable a business to achieve a competitive advantage over rivals. If a core competence yields a long term advantage to the company, it is said to be a...
topic Core Competency Should be Challenged
A Core Competency should be difficult for competitors to imitate. But I would like to add that it should also be challenged from time to time by the competitors. Otherwise it will fail to deliver desi...
topic People are our Greatest Asset
How practical are Prahalad and Hamel (1990) when they suggest that the general managerial epithet, “people are our greatest asset” is a tired cliché?...
Comments2 comments
topic Integrating the Core Competence
Having identified the core competence of the organisation, the real challenge - particularly in knowledge intensive organisations - lies ahead in integrating it with the competences of its people so a...
Comments1 comments
topic Outside- in vs. Inside-out
I think the debate on the wisdom of an "outside- in" vs. "inside-out" approache is misplaced. CC is clearly the latter but unless you match your CC with market opportunities, CC will not yield desired...
Comments3 comments
topic Core Competences Change due to ICT
(In what way) Did core competences change after the ICT evolution?...
topic Defining New Services / Capabilities
How can we come up with ideas to develop new services, based on current internal strength of existing services and capabilities? What techniques can be used? Please share your thoughts, thank you for...
topic Examples of Core Competences
Here are few examples of Core Competencies you frequently see in literature on CCs: Apple: user-friendly design of electronic consumer devices Intel: innovative design and manufacturing of computer ...
Comments1 comments
topic Is There Any Difference Between a Competence and a Competency?
Is there any difference between an organizational / strategic competence and a competency? In other words are competences the same as competencies?...
Comments3 comments
topic Collaboration and CC
How can a firm avoid that its core competence(s) are threatened when it is collaborating with other firms such as in demand chain collaboration or outsourcing?...
Comments2 comments
🔥 The Role of AI in Core Competence
Do you think Artificial Intelligence (big data, self-learning software, digital networks, algorithms) can be a core competence of certain firms like Google or Amazon? Do you think ANY firm will need ...

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Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about Core Competence. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

🥇 Why Protect Core Competence?
Why should a firm ensure its core competence is hard to imitate? The whole market should be made aware about a firm's Core Competence (CC) and the firm should use it in their marketing/branding activ...
🥈 CC as an Organisational Trait(s)
Try to define your organisation's Core Competency and you find yourself with the same problem as trying to identify your son's talent! He may be a good runner, but, not good enough. Many companies do...
Comments3 comments

🥉 Identifying a Core Competence
How can a firm identify its CC?...
Comments5 comments

topic Imitation of Core Competence
How can a firm ensure that its core competence(s) are hard to imitate?...
Comments6 comments

topic Core Competency versus Corporate Competency?
Is there any difference between core competency and corporate competency? If yes, then please explain....
Comments3 comments

topic The Virtual Company and Core Competences
It's interesting to consider a Virtual Business when you are thinking about Core Competences: 1. The Virtual Company focuses as much as possible / entirely on its own Core Competence (Typically Marke...
Comments2 comments

topic Utilizing a Core Competence
Once an organization has defined its Core Competence, finding or creating new markets to leverage the CC becomes a crucial task. Who can give some advise or suggest a generic method how such markets c...
Comments3 comments

topic Financial Valuation of a Core Competence
How can a firm determine the financial valuation of individual CCs? How can we measure the value of a core competence?...
Comments3 comments

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Core Competence. Here you will find professional advices by experts.


Developing Core Competencies

In order to develop core competencies, a company should: - Isolate its key abilities and develop and improve them into...

Uses (Advantages) of Core Competencies

Core competencies are capturing the collective learning in an organization and can be used to: - Design and develop com...

Customer Centricity: Success Factors for Customer Intimacy

Value Disciplines, Customer Strategy, Customer Intimacy, Customer-oriented, CRM
Customer / Consumer Centricity (CC) is a frequently used concept used by companies to achieve competitive advantages. It...

A Corporate Theory: Long-term Handhold and Guidance in Turbulent Times?

Inside-out Corporate Strategy, Corporate Visioning
According to Professor Todd Zenger, companies should focus less on competitive advantage (this isn't what really interes...

Qualities of Core Competences

What is a Core Competence and What isn't?
According to Gallon, Stillman and Coates, core competencies are 'aggregates of capabilities, where synergy is created th...

The Key Role of the Strategy Competence in Creating Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Business Strategy, Corporate Strategy, Competitive Advantage, Strategy Education
Most organizational performance theories assume that there are certain “best practices”, or “best ways” that are needed ...

How to Change a Firm's Core Business?

A 7-Step Process
Chris Zook recommends 7 steps: 1. Define the core. 2. Assess the core's full potential and the durability of its key...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Core Competence. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.


Definition, Differences and Relationships between Resources, Capabilities, Competencies and Core Competencies

Core Competencies
Javidan (1998) has made a great contribution to answering the question for the relationship / differences between resour...

A Service-Dominant Logic on the Firm

Service-Dominant Logic, Perspectives on Marketing
Presentation about a service-dominant logic mindset in marketing, including the following sections: 1. Getting the logi...

Core Competence

Short explanation
Short article explains core competencies....

Porter's Industrial Organization Versus Barney's Resource Based View

Business Strategy, Value Chain Management
This presentation compares Porter's competitive advantage thinking with Barney's Resource Based View, focusing on how co...

Core Competence Diagram

Inside-out Strategy
Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in ...

Perspective: Biography Prahalad (1941-2010)

Developing a Broader Perspective towards the Ideas of Prahalad
A short biography on C.K. Prahalad's career and ideas....

Core Competencies. What are They, Inventory and Test

Discovering Core Competencies
In this presentation, the concept of Core Competencies is explained, following the next points: - Importance of core co...

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