Using Porterian Activity Analysis to Understand Organizational Capabilities

Norman T. Sheehan, Nicolai Juul Foss

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The article argues that organizational capabilities are comprised of two fundamental components: resources and activities. The starting point of the argument is that resources are best conceptualized by Barney’s and others’ research on the resource-based view, while activities are best conceptualized by Porter’s writings on the activity-based view. Porterian activity analysis is becoming more accepted in the strategy literature, but no strategy scholar has explicitly used Porter’s activities, and particularly his concept of drivers, to understand and analyze organizational capabilities. Introducing Porterian activities into the discussion of capabilities improves strategy scholars’ understanding of the bases of capability heterogeneity, offers academics future directions for research, and provides managers with guidance to enhance their organizations’ capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of General Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Activities
  • Activity-based view
  • Capabilities
  • Heterogeneity
  • Porter
  • Resource-based view
  • Resources
  • Value chain

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