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Competitive Profile Matrix (CPM) as a Competitors’ Analysis Tool: A Theoretical Perspective



This paper aims to critically appraise the importance of CPM in providing information for a company’s competitive advantage and its role in formulating company’s strategy. In addition, this paper also pinpoints some other popular techniques for competitors’ analysis and their merits. It's an exploratory and conceptual analysis based on literature review emphasizing the emergence of strategic analysis tools for engendering factors of achieving competitiveness in the fierce competitive market. The study extensively reviews published materials from different sources to explain the relevant concepts on the issue. In this connection, different concepts, ideas, approaches, areas, contemporary practices and issues either from books or journals on CPM and other competitors’ analysis tool-kits have been addressed to explain the topic. Finally, conclusions and future directions have been attached therewith.
Competition is one of the most inevitable issues in today’s business world.
No matter a firm is big or small; it has competitors in the industry and the strategies
of these competitors affect the process of formulating strategic plan for the com-
pany. Competitors represent a major determinant of corporate success, and failure
of a company to analyze its competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and
areas of vulnerability may lead to suboptimal performance in the business (Wilson,
1994). So, analyzing the competitors is crucial for firm’s strategy formulation and
implementation as well as competitive preparation (Ho & Lee, 2008; Bloodgood &
Bauerschmidt, 2002). As most of the managers acknowledge the importance of
understanding their industry and competitors, there is a growing interest to use
various competitive analysis techniques to help formulate and implement strategy
(Prescott & Grant, 1988). Some of these popular techniques include: SWOT analy-
40 IJHPD VOL. 3 NO. 1 JAN - JUNE 2014
-Shanewaz Mahmood Sohel1
-Abu Mohammad Atiqur Rahman 2
-Md. Aftab Uddin3 (Corresponding Author)
This paper aims to critically appraise the importance of CPM in pro-
viding information for a company’s competitive advantage and its role in for-
mulating company’s strategy. In addition, this paper also pinpoints some other
popular techniques for competitors’ analysis and their merits. It’s an explor-
atory and conceptual analysis based on literature review emphasizing the
emergence of strategic analysis tools for engendering factors of achieving
competitiveness in the fierce competitive market. The study extensively reviews
published materials from different sources to explain the relevant concepts on
the issue. In this connection, different concepts, ideas, approaches, areas, con-
temporary practices and issues either from books or journals on CPM and
other competitors’ analysis tool-kits have been addressed to explain the topic.
Finally, conclusions and future directions have been attached therewith.
sis, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) approach, General Electric Stoplight Strategy,
McKinsey’s Industry Strength Matrix, Porter’s Five Forces model & Value Chain
Analysis, SPACE matrix, External Factor Evaluation Matrix (EFE), Internal Factor
Evaluation Matrix (IFE), PESTEL analysis, and Competitive Profile Matrix (CPM)
(Hill & Westbrook, 1997; Radder & Louw, 1998; Porter, 2000; Bygrave &
Zacharakis, 2011). As strategic analysis and planning tools, these conventional
matrices provide valuable insight about competitive scenario to help managers plan
an organization’s future competitive position (Capps III & Glissmeyer, 2012). Among
these techniques, “CPM not only creates a powerful visual catch-point but also
conveys information about your competitive advantage and is the basis for your
company’s strategy (Bygrave & Zacharakis, 2011, p. 244).”
Researchers have proposed some strategic techniques which are useful
for analyzing the competitive scenario of the industry. Coman & Ronen (2009)
mention that SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis is one
of the most useful tools for defining a company’s strategic action by analyzing
company’s internal capabilities and external environment to identify appropriate
opportunities and threats. However, the problem of SWOT analysis is that it does
not prioritize or weight the internal or external factors identified (Hill & Westbrook,
1997) whereas the CPM method includes the weight of all identified CSF for ana-
lyzing the competitive advantages. Porter (2000) identifies another popular tool
known as five forces model to analyze the industry attractiveness of a firm. This
model focuses on five forces that shape the competition within an industry: a) the
threat of new entry, b) the threat of substitutes, c) the bargaining power of buyers,
d) the bargaining power of suppliers, and e) the extent of rivalry between competi-
tors within an industry (Hill & Jones, 2001). “On the basis of analyzing these fac-
tors, Porter argues that an organization can develop a generic competitive strategy
of differentiation or cost leadership, capable of delivering superior performance
through an appropriate configuration and coordination of its value chain activities”
(Stonehouse & Snowdon, 2007; p. 257). This model offers not only a valuable
starting point for strategic analysis (Johnson, et. al., 2011), but it also has some
limitations. According to Porter (2000), this model helps a company assess the
potential profitability of a particular industry but Rumelt (1991) argues that the
profitability does not depend on industry-wide factors; firm-specific factors such as
unique endowment, individual competence, and strategies are more important to
the profitability of the business. The Porter model also indicates that five forces
apply equally to all firms in an industry but in reality the strength of those forces
may vary from business to business in terms of size or strength of brand name
(Stonehouse & Snowdon, 2007, p. 258). In addition, Porter’s five forces model
assumes that the relationships with competitors, suppliers, and buyers are adversarial
but in reality buyers and suppliers may have long lasting relationships as partners
which is more soften and less aggressive than that implied in the Porter’s model
(Campbell, Stonehouse, & Houston, 2002; p. 142). Another competitive analysis
tool SPACE (Strategic Position and Action Evaluation) matrix is proposed by Rowe,
Mason, Dickel, Mann, & Mockler (as cited in Radder & Louw, 1998) which ana-
lyzes the industry competition based on two dimension; first, internal dimension
includes financial strength and competitive advantage which are the major determi-
nants of company’s strategic position and second, external dimension includes envi-
ronment stability and industry strength that indicate the strategic position of entire
industry. Radder and Louw (1998) indicate that the different dimensions in the
matrix result in different strategic postures (aggressive, competitive, conservative,
and defensive) which can be translated into generic competitive strategy to help
manager develop appropriate competitive strategy for the company. However, this
matrix suffers from some limitations. There are no scientific procedure to select
the factors in the dimensions and each individual factor carry equal weight analyz-
ing the competition (Radder & Louw, 1998). But in CPM, the KSFs carry different
weights according to their importance to the firm and, and in their industry environ-
Zimmerer, Scarborough, & Wilson (2008) define Competitor Profile Ma-
trix (CPM) as a tool which helps the companies assess themselves against their
major competitors using the critical success factors for that industry. Zimmerer et
al. (2008) state three steps to construct a CPM for a company. The first step is to
find the KSFs for the company and attach weight to those factors according to their
relative importance. In the next step, company need to identify its major competi-
tors and rate each competitors including company itself on each of the KSFs. KSFs
include both internal and external issues and different ratings have been given from
1 to 4 considering their relative importance to the organization where 1 stands for
major weakness, 2 stands for minor weakness, 3 stands for minor strength,
and 4 stands for major strength. Same method has been applied when rating to
the KSFs of competitors. Lastly, company has to multiply the weight by the rating
for each factor to get a weighted score and then adds up each competitor’s weighted
scores to get a total weighted score. A hypothetical example of a CPM is given
42 IJHPD VOL. 3 NO. 1 JAN - JUNE 2014
Table 1: Competitive Profile Matrix of Company A
This table portrays the competitive scenarios of the company and its com-
petitors in the industry. From this table, it is found that the company A scores better
(strengths) in innovation and product quality, and assumes minor strength in cus-
tomer service, price competitiveness, and in technological competence. Albeit, com-
pany has minor weakness in advertising and major weakness is in brand name. As
a whole, its total score is 2.80 and on the other hand, its competitor A’s and competi-
tor B’s total scores are 3.10, and 2.65 respectively. From this competitive profile
matrix, it is revealed that competitor 1 enjoys more competitive advantages by 0.30
than the company itself while competitor 2 is lagging behind by 0.15.
As a strategic analysis tool, CPM provides several benefits to the com-
pany. Capps III and Glissmeyer (2012) argue that CPM includes company’s KSFs
which help the company identify strengths and deficiencies in those significant ar-
eas. “Analyzing organizations in this manner is an effective way to evaluate many
competitors in one framework to support an effective strategic plan” (Fleisher &
Bensoussan, 2003, 2007; as cited in Capps III & Glissmeyer, 2012, p. 1060). CPM
enables a company to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of its major competi-
tors which is matter to develop an effective competitive strategy. Wilson (1994)
argues that in competitor analysis, detail attention is given to each competitor’s
apparent objectives, resources and competitive moves which lead a company to
readily identify the area of strengths and weaknesses of the competitors and this
can be used in the process of developing effective strategy. Johnson, Whittington,
and Scholes (2011) also state that one of the key elements of a strategic plan is to
analyze the capabilities of an organization which should include a clear identifica-
tion of the key strength and weaknesses of the organization relative to its competi-
tors. Through a comparative analysis of KSFs between a company and its major
competitors CPM provides important internal strategic information to managers
Key Success Factors
Brand Name
Product Quality
Customer Service
Price Competitiveness
Technological Competence
Company A Competitor 1 Competitor 2
and help them develop effective strategy for the company (David, 2011). In addi-
tion, to construct CPM, a company needs to identify the KSFs of the industry
where it operates. Identifying these KSFs are also crucial for developing effective
strategy. Because KSFs can be used to direct a company’s effort for developing
strategies, it can also be used to identify critical issues associated with implementa-
tion of strategy, and it might also assist managers to establish a guideline for moni-
toring company’s activities (Munro & Wheeler, 1980; Ferguson & Dickinson, 1982;
as cited in Boynton & Zmud, 1984). Zimmerer et al. (2008) also state that identify-
ing the KSFs in an industry helps managers decide where they should focus their
company’s resources strategically. Moreover, Capps III and Glissmeyer, (2012)
state that while IFE matrix for competitors analysis summarizes only company’s
major strength and weaknesses and EFE matrix provides a synopsis of company’s
opportunities and threats from external environments but CPM includes both inter-
nal and external factors that most impact on organization and provide information
about company’s potential competitive advantages.
Though CPM is a sensible tool for managers to use for competitors analy-
sis but it suffers from some limitations (Capps III & Glissmeyer, 2012). Chang and
Huang (2006) identifies two major drawbacks of CPM; 1) the ratings of KSFs are
subjectively assigned between 1 and 4, so objective and quantified data (such as
business volume) is missing, 2) non-uniformity may occur because of weights of
CSFs being assigned subjectively by the evaluators without any consistency test. In
CPM, managers assigned the weight to different key success factors based on
their assumptions. No scientific method is used to evaluate the relative importance
of each KSF for the company. Moreover, Boynton and Zmud, (1984) argue that the
procedure of identifying the KSFs may be biased by manager’s belief, values or
availability of information. Beside this, Though CPM provides information about
company’s performance relative to its competitors based on some key success
factors but it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the company in terms of
those key factors because Rangone (1997) states that competitive advantage of a
company does not depend on specific factors and disadvantage in one factor may
be paid off by an advantage in another factor. To avoid this problem, in CPM,
managers assess the overall effectiveness of the company with respect to competi-
tors by calculating some total scores based on the company’s performance in all
KSFs but it is also difficult because of the heterogeneity of the KSFs which may be
financial, non-financial, quantitative or qualitative (Rangone, 1997). Managers also
faces problem in interpreting the scores derived from CPM to compare the perfor-
mance of the company against their competitors. For example, “Just because one
firm receives a 3.20 rating and another receives a 2.80 rating in a Competitive
Profile Matrix, it does not mean that the first firm is 20 percent better than the
44 IJHPD VOL. 3 NO. 1 JAN - JUNE 2014
second” (David, 2011; p. 82). He also argue that total score in CPM just reveal the
relative strength of a firm but their accuracy as tool for relative measurement of
two companies performance may not be appropriate. Beside this, managers may
face problems collecting information about their competitors while preparing the
CPM. It is easy for the managers to collect information about a competitor if it is a
public company but very difficult if it is a private company or operating in stealth
mode. (Bygrave & Zacharakis, 2011).
Competitive Profile Matrix is a simple but powerful tool to provide infor-
mation of the competitive scenario of an industry and help manager develop appro-
priate strategy for the company. Managers need competitive information to under-
stand the industry and its competitors and to identify areas in which the competitors
are weak and to evaluate the impact of strategic action on competitors (David,
2011). Using this model enables them to outperform the competitors by the effec-
tive design and implementation of strategic plans. Academics have miles to go with
this model in this field. They can push this model down from the theoretical frame
to the practical arena and encourage the industrial corporate to use this in the
competitive analysis of their own firm and its competitors. Students in business
discipline will also be benefited as to the assessment of the firm and their industry’s
competitive environment.
By identifying the KSFs of the industry and evaluating the company against
its major competitors based on the ratings of the KSFs, CPM provides a clear
synopsis of strengths and weaknesses of the company and its competitors which
might assists managers to develop effective competitive strategy for the business.
However, the major problem using this technique is that KSFs are not identified
scientifically and the weights are not assigned subjectively and lack the consistency
test. Moreover, the overall effectiveness of the company cannot be measured by
using KSFs because Ketelhohn (1998) argues that mastering on industry KSFs
does not ensure profits for the company, they prepare the company for competition.
However, despite of some limitations, CPM is a powerful tool that helps manager
or entrepreneur explains why the business is weak in some areas and why it is
better in others. By carefully interpreting the results of CPM, an entrepreneur can
start defining the ideal competitive strategy for his company (Zimmerer et al., 2008).
This research suggests that CPM is useful to unlock the key drivers of competitive-
ness based on firm’s internal and external environment. Empirical research might
be more accurate for figuring out the right tool of competitive analysis. In addition,
an empirical research on comparative analysis of different tools like, SWOT analy-
sis, PESTEL analysis, VCA model, Five Forces Model, BCG matrix, EFE matrix,
IFE matrix, General Electric Stoplight Strategy, Company Strength Matrix, and CPM
might be useful for a group of firms to explore the superiority of the specific model
over others for an effective competitor analysis.
Bloodgood, J. M., & Bauerschmidt, A. (2002). Competitive analysis: do managers accu-
rately compare their firms to competitors?. Journal of Managerial Issues, 418-434.
Boynton, A. C., & Zmud, R. W. (1984). An assessment of critical success factors. Sloan
Management Review (pre-1986), 25(4), 17-27.
Bygrave, W. D., & Zacharakis, A. (2011). Entrepreneurship (2nd ed.), NJ, USA: Wiley
Campbell, D. J., Stonehouse, G., and Houston, B. (2002). Business strategy: an introduc-
tion (2nd Ed.), Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann
Capps III, C. J., & Glissmeyer, M. D. (2012). Extending The Competitive Profile Matrix
Using Internal Factor Evaluation And External Factor Evaluation Matrix Concepts. Journal
of Applied Business Research (JABR), 28(5), 1059-1062.
Chang, H. H., & Huang, W. C. (2006). Application of a quantification SWOT analytical
method. Mathematical and Computer Modeling, 43(1), 158-169.
Coman, A., & Ronen, B. (2009). Focused SWOT: diagnosing critical strengths and weak-
nesses. International Journal of Production Research, 47(20), 5677-5689.
David, F. R. (2011). Strategic management: Concepts and cases (13th ed.). Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hill, C. W., & Jones, G. R. (2001). Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach (5th Ed.).
New York: Houghton Mifflin
Hill, T., & Westbrook, R. (1997). SWOT analysis: it’s time for a product recall. Long range
planning, 30(1), 46-52.
Ho, J. C., & Lee, C. S. (2008). The DNA of industrial competitors. Research-Technology
Management, 51(4), 17-20.
Johnson, G., Whittington, R., & Scholes, K. (2011). Exploring corporate strategy: Text and
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Ketelhohn, W. (1998). What is a key success factor?. European Management Journal,
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Porter, M. E. (2000). How competitive forces shape strategy. Strategic Planning: Read-
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46 IJHPD VOL. 3 NO. 1 JAN - JUNE 2014
Stonehouse, G., & Snowdon, B. (2007). Competitive advantage revisited: Michael Porter
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-Shanewaz Mahmood Sohel
Assistant Professor
Department of Management Studies
University of Chittagong, Bangladesh
-Abu Mohammad Atiqur Rahman
Associate Professor
Department of Management Studies
University of Chittagong
Chittagong, Bangladesh.
-Md. Aftab Uddin (Corresponding Author)
Assistant Professor
Department of Management Studies
University of Chittagong, Bangladesh
Mr. Shanewaz Mahmood Sohel1, Assistant Professor, Department of
Management Studies, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh 4331, has completed
BBA and MBA (Major in Management) both from the University of Chittagong,
Bangladesh. Currently, he has been pursuing MBA (Major in International Busi-
ness) in the University of Chester, UK.
Mr. Abu Mohammad Atiqur Rahman2, Associate professor, Depart-
ment of Management Studies, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, 4331, has
been graduated B.Com.(Hons), and M.Com. both from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Later on, he has been awarded another Master degree (Master in Project Evalua-
tion and Management) from the University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Mr. Md. Aftab Uddin3, Assistant Professor, Department of Management
Studies, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh 4331, has completed BBA (Major in
Management) and MBA (Major in International Management) both from the
University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Currently, he has been awarded Chinese
Government Scholarship for completing MBA (Major in Human Resource
Management) in the Wuhan University of Technology, China.
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The critical success factors (CSF) method has attracted considerable attention as a means of supporting both MIS planning and requirements analysis. Using insights gained from two case studies, the authors assess the strengths and weaknesses of this methodology. They find that the CSF method is particularly effective in supporting planning processes, in communicating the role of information technologies to senior management, and in promoting structured analysis processes.
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Strategic management is constantly evolving as both an academic discipline and as a reflection of management practice. This article, based on a recent interview with Michael Porter, assesses his contribution to the development of the discipline in the context of the advances that have taken place since the publication of his seminal work Competitive Strategy in 1980. The authors conclude that Porter has made major lasting contributions to strategy, increasing both its academic rigor and its accessibility to managers. The article and interview place Porter's work at the center of the development of strategic management in terms of the provision of practical analytical frameworks, transforming it into a recognized and recognizable field of academic study and management practice. This feat of transformation has not been equaled before or since, so that 25 years after his first seminal contribution, Porter's work continues to provide remarkable insights into the nature of competition and strategy.
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Despite the problems involved in its use, SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis remains a major strategic tool for listing the strengths and weaknesses of an organisation, for recording the major strengths and translating them into value. This paper presents a straightforward methodology for making a structured analysis of strengths and weaknesses, based on an analysis of important value-creating events and the strengths and weaknesses that caused these events. The focused SWOT methodology distils the strengths and weaknesses into core competences and core problems, by using the core-competence tree and the current-reality tree. The core competences and core problems are then linked into a plan of action aimed at preserving and leveraging the organisation's core competences, while defending against exposure to core problems. Applications of the methodology are presented and it is demonstrated in a detailed case study.
Competition is at the core of the success or failure of any organization, and determines the appropriateness of its activities. In developing a strategy, managers must examine the marketing opportunities in each business and product-market, as well as the organization's distinctive competencies or strengths relative to its competitors. The SPACE matrix is a valuable method for analysing the competitive position of an organization. It makes use of two internal dimensions (financial strength and competitive advantage) and two external dimensions (industry strength and environmental stability), to determine the organization's strategic posture in the industry. The firm's strategic posture is then classified broadly as: aggressive, competitive, conservative or defensive. The SPACE matrix can be used as a basis for other analyses, e.g., SWOT analysis, industry analysis, or assessing strategic alternatives. This article briefly explains the SPACE method and describes how it has been applied as a strategic management tool in South African manufacturing businesses
Internal Factor Evaluation and External Factor Evaluation matrices allow an organization to visualize their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats while a Competitive Profile Matrix utilizes critical success factors to allow an organization to compare itself to other competitors. The authors wondered if substituting basic internal strengths and weaknesses categories, and external opportunities and threats classifications for the conventional CSFs in a forced ranking method could extend the Competitive Profile Matrix to allow additional strategic understanding. The goal of extending the Competitive Profile Matrix using the forced ranking of important organizational factors when evaluating an organization's relative competitive position against major competitors was successfully realized. An External Competitive Profile Matrix (ECPM) and an Internal Competitive Profile Matrix (ICPM) better draw awareness to internal and external categories that need an organization's attention.
The essence of strategy formulation is coping with competition. Yet it is easy to view competition too narrowly and too pessimistically. While one sometimes hears executives complaining to the contrary, intense competition in an industry is neither coincidence nor bad luck.
The wide variety of competitive analysis techniques available to managers presents a problem of choosing the most appropriate set for the objectives of an assignment. A utilization profile table evaluates 21 competitive analysis techniques along a set of 11 dimensions. Managers can use the table to examine trade-offs among the techniques, thereby selecting the most efficient and effective ones for their assignment.