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In the economists’ “perfectly competitive” industry, jockeying for position is unbridled and entry to the industry very easy. This kind of industry structure, of course, offers the worst prospect for long-run profitability. The weaker the forces collectively, however, the greater the opportunity for superior performance.

Whatever their collective strength, the corporate strategist’s goal is to find a position in the industry where his or her company can best defend itself against these forces or can influence them in its favor. The collective strength of the forces may be painfully apparent to all the antagonists; but to cope with them, the strategist must delve below the surface and analyze the sources of each. For example, what makes the industry vulnerable to entry, What determines the bargaining power of suppliers?

In the June 2010 issue of Financial Management magazine, the Five Forces model was applied to the emerging Indian business environment in comparison with more developed markets. The analysis found that factors such as state protectionism and a lack of infrastructure are greater barriers to entry in India than they are in more developed nations, where market forces are more powerful.

The analysis highlighted many issues affecting competition in emerging economies and compared them to those that are more prevalent in more developed markets.

One factor that could play a crucial role in India is public opinion, which exerts a considerable influence on the government. A good example of this is a campaign by local retailers against Walmart, who feel that the arrival of the US retail giant could put them out of business. Walmart has made huge investments in India, but is having to find ways around stringent regulations that prevent it from doing things as basic as putting its brand name on stores.