What is distinctive competence?

What is distinctive competence?


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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Distinctive competence refers to some characteristic of a business that it does better than its competitors. Because the business is able to do something better than other businesses, that business has a competitive advantage over other businesses. Distinctive competence can occur in various areas, including technology, manufacturing, consumer relations, marketing, or the people that work for the business.

Companies with a distinctive competence are ones that have an advantage that is difficult for other businesses to copy. In order for a company to develop a distinctive competence, it must do a very thorough internal and external review of its corporate environments.

Companies must constantly be monitoring conditions in the business environment. Failure to do this could cause the company to lose their distinctive competence because of changes in the business environment.

There are a few examples of companies with a distinctive competency. GE has a distinctive competency in management development. Toyota has one in lean manufacturing.

A distinctive competence can give a business a big advantage over its competitors.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Distinctive competence of a firm refers to a set of activities or capabilities that a company is able to perform better than its competitors and which gives it an advantage over them. Distinctive competence can lie in different area such as technology, marketing activities, or management capability.

A company needs to develop its strategy that utilizes its distinctive competence to gain competitive advantage. It must be remembered that what distinctive competence of a firm may change with time as other companies develop new capabilities and with change in market requirements. Therefore companies need to identify their distinctive competence by careful analysis, and if required, strive to develop new competences to meet changing market requirements and competitive situation.

The concept of distinctive competence was first put forward by Philip Sleznick in 1957. Kenneth R Andrews further elaborated it in 1971.

The concept of distinctive competence is quite similar to the concept of core competence. While some authors consider these two term to mean the same thing, as per authors like C.K. Prahlad core competences must satisfy two additional criteria. One, it must be difficult to copy or replicate by competitors. Second, it should provide competitive advantage for multiple products and multiple markets.

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