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Benchmarking the competitiveness of nations: non-uniform weighting and non-economic dimensions


  • Bowen, Harry P.


  • Moesen, W.

    (Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School)


This paper addresses two methodological issues concerning the construction of a composite indicator of national competitiveness. The first is the choice of weights to be used to aggregate the underlying primitive data. Most composite indicators use predetermined fixed weight values that are then applied uniformly to all countries. However, such uniform weighting fails to recognize that countries may have different policy priorities with respect to the different primitive dimensions used to form a given index. To the extent a country’s mix of priorities differs from that represented by the imposed weight pattern, the use of uniform weighting may bias measurement, and hence inferences, of relative competitiveness. We propose in this paper a procedure that allows weights to be endogenously determined and that are applied individually to each country. These country specific weights explicitly take account of a country’s own choices and performance across primitive dimensions. We illustrate our procedure by applying it to examine the widely cited Growth Competitiveness Index developed by the World Economic Forum. The second issue we address is the conceptual scope of national competitiveness indicators. Such indicators often consider only the “economic” domain when assessing relative performance. This singular focus may also bias inferences about relative performance since it ignores other national goals or priorities. We therefore broaden the scope for evaluating relative performance by combining a traditional index of competitiveness with two additional dimensions that may impinge on a country’s performance: environmental sustainability and governance. The resulting Composite Inclusive Index is formed using weights that allow that countries may choose different combinations of the three dimensions but still achieve the same level of overall performance. A performance ranking across countries is then presented based on values of the Composite Inclusive Index.

Suggested Citation

  • Bowen, Harry P. & Moesen, W., 2005. "Benchmarking the competitiveness of nations: non-uniform weighting and non-economic dimensions," Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Working Paper Series 2005-2, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
  • Handle: RePEc:vlg:vlgwps:2005-2

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    Cited by:

    1. Zuzanna Studnicka & Wouter Thierie & Jan Van Hove, 2019. "The impact of regional trade agreements on European exports," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 467-488, July.
    2. Garcia, Abraham, 2007. "National Systems of Innovations and the Role of Demand. A Cross Country Comparison," MERIT Working Papers 2007-027, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. repec:pts:wpaper:e6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Herciu, Mihaela & Ogrean, Claudia, 2011. "A Model for Measuring the National Global Performance and Analyzing its Determinants – The Case of Romania," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(4), pages 163-177, December.
    5. Coffé, Hilde & Geys, Benny, 2006. "Towards an empirical characterization of bridging and bonding social capital [Zur empirischen Charakterisierung von heterogenen (bridging) und homogenen (bonding) Arten des Sozialkapitals]," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2006-11, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. Geys, Benny, 2007. "How to make head or tail of bridging and bonding? Adressing the methodological ambiguity [Wie ist ‘Briding vs. Bonding’ sozialer Netzwerke zu verstehen? Das Problem der methodischen Zweideutigkeit]," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2007-11, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

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