How Porter’s Five Forces Framework Can Help Fix U.S. Politics

Unhealthy competition is at the root of political dysfunction. Michael Porter’s famous framework can help identify the best ways to fix it.

Although people tend to think of the American political system as a public institution based on high-minded principles, it’s not. Politics behaves according to the same kinds of incentives and forces that shape competition in any private industry.

Our elections and our legislative systems are drowning in unhealthy competition: The political-industrial complex wins, and the public interest loses. Business, in pursuing its short-term interests, has become a major participant in the politics industry, exacerbating its dysfunction.

We can have healthy competition in politics—results, innovation, and accountability—by redesigning how we vote to connect acting in the public interest with getting reelected. Applying Porter’s Five Forces framework illuminates the root causes of political dysfunction and points to the most powerful levers for transformation.

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