Territorial Competitiveness and Economic Development Policy
There are fundamental links between academic treatments of ‘economic development’ and of the popular policydiscourse of ‘competitiveness’. Productivity-focused analyses of competitiveness are inherently related to market-centric analyses of development that have economic growth as their objective. However, a consensus is emerging onthe need for broader conceptions of economic progress, built in particular on recognition of: (i) the inconsistency ofshort-term, unconditional growth with environmental sustainability; and (ii) the complexity of relationships betweenincome, other socio-economic factors and actual well-being. This paper argues that moving ‘beyond income’ hasimplications for competitiveness discourse. Understanding the drivers of productivity will remain a key concern, asincome will remain a core component of economic development. However, there is a danger that the dominance of anarrow, market-focused competitiveness discourse will continue to skew policy. The paper argues that the verypopularity of the competitiveness concept among policy-makers in fact presents an opportunity: broaderconceptualisations may facilitate the integration into policy of wider socio-economic concerns. Analysis of the contested competitiveness concept is combined with reflection on recent advances in the measurement of economicprogress in proposing the necessary re-conceptualisation of competitiveness for today’s economic developmentchallenges.
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