基于市场基础观的理论认为，企业的竞争优势取决于外部因素，如企业所经营的行业或外部市场(Wang, 2014)。这些都被认为对组织有积极和消极的影响，以及他们如何进入新的市场等。波特的五力模型是在基于市场的观点的前提下发展起来的(波特，2008)。在制定战略时，公司使用外部环境的完整评估(Chandler, 2010)。波特提出了五种力量作为进入壁垒，替代品的威胁，供应商的议价能力，买家和竞争对手的竞争(Tylenda, 2014)。
Sustainability as argued by Porter is a form of technological leadership and the company that understands the competitive advantage which sustainability initiatives bring would reap first mover advantages (Porter, 1985). The essay makes the argument that in today’s uncertain rapidly changing and fiercely competitive market, it is indeed possible for organizations to have sustainable competitive advantage. Porter’s competitive advantage theory based on the market-based view and the resource-based view is made use of in the work. Examples of sources of sustainable competitive advantage for firms like Coca Cola are presented.
Theories on the market-based view present the argument that competitive advantage of firms would be dependent on the external elements like the industry in which the firm operates or the external market (Wang, 2014). These are considered as having both positive and negative influence on organizations and how they enter newer markets etc. Models like Porter’s five forces were developed on the premises of the market-based view (Porter, 2008). When formulating strategies, companies use a complete assessment of the external environment (Chandler, 2010). Porter presents the five forces as barriers to entry, threat of substitutes, bargaining power of suppliers, buyers and the competitor rivalry (Tylenda, 2014).
Sources of sustainable competitive advantage can be identified in Porter’s five forces. Firstly, the threat of new entrants is redefined to include sustainability as a competitive strategy. Where competitive firms present sustainability strategies and standards that could be difficult for the new market entrant, and then it would take time for the new market entrant to bring up standards of sustainability to fit the new environment. In current times, the global integrated standard ensures that most organizations are aware of sustainability standards. Secondly, sustainability elements can be identified in bargaining power of suppliers. Nowadays, raw material and commodities for production are becoming scarce and hence when working in stressed environment, the suppliers would want to work with those organizations that show they have a sustainability strategy. The company focusing on sustainability strategy presents more self-assessments and audits (Lowitt, 2011). Bargaining power of the buyer would improve when they set industrial standards in sustainability. This gives them the advantage of being the pioneers in the field and could change the way they interact with their customers and their buyers. The threat of new products is a constant one as product and process fields keep evolving. In sustainability planning, similar initiatives are observed as companies in the same product/process production compete with one another for introducing sustainability trends that set them apart uniquely. This way, the final aspect of the five forces theory, competitive rivalry, is also connected, as organizations find themselves in a positive position to compete with one another even in their sustainability standards representation like transparency and accountability.