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Competitiveness: From a Dangerous Obsession to a Welfare Creating Ability with Positive Externalities

  • Karl Aiginger

    ()

The attempt to define the term “competitiveness of nations” has reached the phase of decreasing returns. Fortunately, the literature seems to be converging slightly, a tendency, we hope to accelerate. We propose (1) defining competitiveness as “the ability of a country or location to create welfare.” We maintain (2) that a comprehensive evaluation contains an output evaluation and a process evaluation. We claim (3) that the output evaluation (competitiveness achieved) is closely related to a welfare assessment, with a specific slant and stepwise operationalisations. Furthermore, (4) process evaluation (investigating the ability) is related to the analysis of production and technology functions, adding qualitative elements like strategies, and the strengths and weaknesses of a country. This consensus is at variance with the concept of price competitiveness; it sidelines the importance of external balances, while the productivity approach to competitiveness is nested within. Dangerous obsessions and wrong policy conclusions can never be excluded, but are much less likely if we use this approach to competitiveness—as compared to concepts focusing on price competitiveness or on external balances. Specifically, the greater competitiveness of one country must not necessarily go hand in hand with lower competitiveness in other countries. In advanced countries specifically, policies promoting the ability to create welfare will create positive spillovers into other economies. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10842-006-9475-6
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade.

Volume (Year): 6 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 161-177

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jincot:v:6:y:2006:i:2:p:161-177
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  1. Aiginger, Karl, 1997. "The Use of Unit Values to Discriminate between Price and Quality Competition," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(5), pages 571-92, September.
  2. Karl Aiginger & Michael Landesmann, 2002. "Competitive Economic Performance: The European View," WIFO Working Papers 179, WIFO.
  3. Isabel Grilo & Gert Koopman, 2006. "Productivity and Microeconomic Reforms: Strengthening EU Competitiveness," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 67-84, June.
  4. Fagerberg, Jan, 1988. "International Competitiveness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 355-74, June.
  5. Aiginger, K., 1998. "A framework for evaluating the dynamic competitiveness of countries," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 159-188, June.
  6. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, 06.
  7. Fagerberg, Jan, 1994. "Technology and International Differences in Growth Rates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1147-75, September.
  8. Eckhard Siggel, 2006. "International Competitiveness and Comparative Advantage: A Survey and a Proposal for Measurement," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 137-159, June.
  9. Karl Aiginger, 2006. "Revisiting an Evasive Concept: Introduction to the Special Issue on Competitiveness," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 63-66, June.
  10. Oughton, Christine & Whittam, Geoff, 1997. "Competition and Cooperation in the Small Firm Sector," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 44(1), pages 1-30, February.
  11. von Tunzelmann, G. N., 1995. "Government policy and the long-run dynamics of competitiveness," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, March.
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