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Johnson, James H., Jr.; Farrell, Walter C., Jr.; & Henderson, Geraldine R. (1996). Mr. Porter's "Competitive Advantage" for Inner-city Revitalization: Exploitation or Empowerment?. Review of Black Political Economy, 24(2/3), 259-289.


Michael Porter, a distinguished Harvard business professor, has advanced an interesting and provocative strategy for revitalizing the American inner city. Noting the increasing economic distress and the crushing cycle of poverty therein, he rightfully concludes that the crippling social problems of the inner city---drug abuse, crime, and other associated ills--may be the most pressing issues facing our nation. He also has determined that "... the efforts of the past few decades to revitalize the inner cities have failed,'' largely because these efforts have been guided by a government-facilitated, social service model. To continue in this vein, he reasons, will serve to undermine economic development and to worsen social problems. Thus, what is needed for the creation of a sustainable economic base in the inner city, in his view, is "private, for-profit initiatives and investment based on economic self-interest and genuine competitive advantage" and that "increasing social investment and hoping for economic activity to follow" will not cure the inner city's problems.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Review of Black Political Economy


Johnson, James H., Jr.
Farrell, Walter C., Jr.
Henderson, Geraldine R.