The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness (ISC) studies competition and its implications for company strategy; the competitiveness of nations, states, and regions; and solutions to social needs such as health care, innovation, and corporate responsibility. Based at Harvard Business School, the Institute is dedicated to extending the work and research pioneered by Professor Michael Porter on a global basis.
The Institute was selected by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce, to lead the Cluster Mapping Project for the United States. This initiative is part of EDA’s Jobs and Innovation Partnership, a long-term prosperity plan to build an environment for the private sector to thrive and collaborate in vibrant regional economic ecosystems. Headed by principal investigator Michael Porter, the Institute leads and manages the overall project, including the website, cluster mapping research and methodology, and intellectual property.
Michael E. Porter
Bishop William Lawrence University Professor
Michael Porter is an economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher. Throughout his career at Harvard Business School, he has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies, including market competition and company strategy, economic development, the environment, and health care. His extensive research is widely recognized in governments, corporations, NGOs, and academic circles around the globe. His research has received numerous awards, and he is the most cited scholar today in economics and business. While Michael Porter is, at the core, a scholar, his work has also achieved remarkable acceptance by practitioners across multiple fields.
Dr. Porter’s initial training was in aerospace engineering at Princeton University. He then earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard’s Department of Economics. His research approach—applying economic theory to complex systemic problems—reflects these multidisciplinary foundations. In 2000, Harvard Business School and Harvard University jointly established the Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness to provide a home for his research.
Research & Scholarship
Michael Porter’s early work was on industry competition and company strategy, where he was the pioneer in utilizing economic theory to develop a more rigorous understanding of industry competition and the choices companies make to compete. In addition to advancing his home field of industrial organization economics, Michael Porter’s work has defined the modern strategy field. His ideas, published in books and articles including Competitive Strategy (1980), Competitive Advantage (1985), and What is Strategy (1996) are taught in virtually every business school in the world as well as extensively in economics and other disciplines. He continues to write about competition and strategy today. His November 2014 article, How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition, addresses the role of information technology in strategy. Dr. Porter’s original work on industry structure, the value chain, and strategic positioning has informed much of his other research.
Dr. Porter next turned to economic development and competitiveness, where his work focused on the microeconomic underpinnings of national and regional economic development. His book The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990) was the initial foundation of this body of work. This large body of work includes numerous theoretical and empirical papers on the concept of clusters and their impact on economic performance. He also created the Cluster Mapping Project, which pioneered the rigorous measurement of economic geography and has become the standard in the U.S., Europe, and a growing number of other countries. His theories are widely applied by both government policymakers and economic development practitioners globally.
In environmental policy, Dr. Porter proposed the “Porter Hypothesis” in the early 1990s, which put forward the novel theory that strict environmental standards were not in conflict with company profitability or national competitiveness, but could enhance both. The Porter Hypothesis has given rise to several hundred scholarly articles in the literature on environmental economics.
Dr. Porter also developed a body of work on the role of corporations in society. His ideas have changed the way companies approach philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, and he introduced the concept of creating shared value in a 2011 paper with Mark Kramer that shows how capitalism itself can be the best route to real solutions to many social problems. Michael Porter has also led the development of the conceptual framework underlying the new Social Progress Index. First released in 2014 and covering 132 countries, the Index rigorously measures each country’s social progress across multiple dimensions to complement traditional measurement focused solely on economic performance and GDP per capita.
Finally, since the early 2000s, Michael Porter has devoted considerable attention to the economics of health care, with a focus on building the intellectual framework for realigning the delivery of health care to maximize value to patients (patient health outcomes achieved per dollar spent). First in Redefining Health Care (2006, with Elizabeth Teisberg), and through a series of articles including What is Value in Health Care (2010) and The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care (2013, with Thomas Lee), Dr. Porter has introduced the core concepts for reorganizing health care delivery organizations, measuring patient outcomes, understanding the actual cost of care by medical condition, designing value-based reimbursement models, and integrating multi-location health systems, among others. This work, collectively known as value-based health care delivery, is diffusing rapidly in the literature and among practitioners.
Other Activities & Honors
Michael Porter has taught generations of students at Harvard Business School and across the entire University, as well as business, government, and health care leaders from around the world. He serves as an advisor to business, government, and the social sector. He has been strategy advisor to leading U.S. and international companies, served on Fortune 500 public boards, and played an active role in U.S. economic policy at the federal and state levels. He has worked with heads of state from around the world on economic development strategy.
Michael Porter has founded or co-founded four non-profit organizations growing out of his scholarly work: The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, which addresses economic development in distressed urban communities; the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which creates rigorous tools for measuring foundation effectiveness; FSG, a leading non-profit strategy firm serving corporations, NGOs, and foundations in improving social value creation; and the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM), which develops global patient outcome standards and risk factors by medical condition and drives their adoption globally.
Michael Porter is the author of nineteen books and more than 125 articles. He has won many scholarly awards and honors including the Adam Smith Award of the National Association of Business Economists, the John Kenneth Galbraith Medal, the David A. Wells Prize in Economics from Harvard, and the Academy of Management’s highest award for scholarly contributions to management. He is also an unprecedented seven-time winner of the McKinsey Award for the best Harvard Business Review article of the year.
Professor Porter is the recipient of twenty-one honorary doctorates and several national and state honors. He received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for his contribution to economic development, and has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and other honorary societies. In 2000, he was named a University Professor by Harvard University, the highest recognition that can be awarded to a Harvard faculty member.
For further information, see the web site of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.
Faculty; Principal Associate
Dr. Christian Ketels is a member of the Harvard Business School faculty at Professor Michael E. Porter’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. He holds a PhD (Econ) from the London School of Economics and further degrees from the Kiel Institute for World Economics and Cologne University. He is President of TCI, a global network of professionals in the field of competitiveness, clusters, and innovation, Honorary Professor at the European Business School Oestrich-Winckel, and Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm School of Economics. In 2009 he served as a Visiting Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore. Dr. Ketels has led cluster and competitiveness projects in many parts of the world, has written widely on economic policy issues, and is a frequent speaker on competitiveness and strategy in Europe, North America, and Asia.
Dr. Ketels is the chair of the academic advisory board of ORKESTRA The Basque Competitiveness Institute and currently serves on the advisory boards of The Baltic Development Forum, the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Universidad de los Andes, the Center for Competitiveness at the University Fribourg, and is a special advisor to the Asia Competitiveness Institute. He is a member of the selection committee for the Spitzencluster-Initiative launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany), served on the European Commission's European Cluster Policy Group and 2011 RegioStars jury, and is currently part of its Mirror Group for the S3 Smart Specialization Platform.
Read more about Christian Ketels here.
David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology
MIT Sloan School of Management
Scott Stern is the David Sarnoff Professor of Management and Chair of the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Stern explores how innovation and entrepreneurship differ from more traditional economic activities, and the consequences of these differences for strategy and policy. His research in the economics of innovation and entrepreneurship focuses on entrepreneurial strategy, innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems, and innovation policy and management. Recent studies include the impact of clusters on entrepreneurship, the role of institutions in shaping the accumulation of scientific and technical knowledge, and the drivers and consequences of entrepreneurial strategy.
He has worked widely with practitioners in bridging the gap between academic research and the practice of innovation and entrepreneurship. This includes advising start-ups and other growth firms in the area of entrepreneurial strategy, as well as working with governments and other stakeholders on policy issues related to competitiveness and regional performance. In recent years, Stern has developed a popular new MIT Sloan elective, Entrepreneurial Strategy, co-founded the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program, advised the development of the Social Progress Index and served as the lead MIT investigator on the US Cluster Mapping Project.
Stern started his career at MIT, where he worked from 1995 to 2001. Before returning to MIT in 2009, he held positions as a professor at the Kellogg School of Management and as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Stern is the director and co-founder of the Innovation Policy Working Group at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2005, he was awarded the Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship.
Stern holds a BA in economics from New York University and a PhD in economics from Stanford University.
Read more about Scott Stern here.
Assistant Professor of Strategic Management
Temple University, Fox School of Business
Delgado’s research focuses on the relationship between the regional business environment and the performance of firms, regions, and countries. Her work examines the role of regional clusters—geographic concentrations of related economic activity—in job creation, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Part of this work develops new methods to define regional clusters, providing tools to help firms, practitioners, and policymakers create regional strategies. More broadly, she studies the determinants of national and regional competitiveness, seeking to understand how different components of the microeconomic and macroeconomic environment contribute to prosperity. Her current research explores the location choices of firms through their value chain. Delgado has been the recipient of prestigious fellowships and research grants.
Read more about Mercedes Delgado here.
Director of Information Products
Rich Bryden is the Director of Information Products at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, and his work with Michael Porter centers on analytical methods supporting strategies for economic development. Rich designed and launched Harvard's Cluster Mapping Project, an effort that continues under the U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to make the cluster mapping website a hub for education, analysis, and professional community around cluster-based economic development.
Rich is lead data analyst for many of the Institute's research and teaching publications, with examples including:
- Competitiveness in U.S. Rural Regions: Learning and Research Agenda
- Executive Opinion Survey: Capturing the Voice of the Business Community
- Competitiveness at the Crossroads: Choosing the Future Direction of the Russian Economy
- In-Vitro Fertilization: Outcomes Measurement
Rich joined the Institute in 2002. Prior to joining the Institute, he worked for eight years in product management and marketing roles for Bloomberg and Knight-Ridder Financial. He earned an M.B.A. with highest honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2001 and also holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University.
Communications and Digital Coordinator
Melissa Fall is the Communications and Digital Coordinator at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.