Competitiveness is a dynamic concept. Since everybody competes, almost, with everybody else, it forces each economic actor in a country to rethink its role and responsibilities accordingly. Probably, the most difficult hurdle is to overcome a classical approach to economic affairs, which traditionally emphasizes exports, tangible goods, and basic infrastructure. J.M. Keynes underlined the importance of breaking away from the past when he stated "The real difficulty lies not in developing new ideas but in escaping from the old ones."
Today the focus is on the question: what have we learned? Are there patterns that explain the competitiveness of nations? Is it possible to benchmark success stories? Although there is no ready-made recipe for competitiveness, there are indeed some principles that merit further attention: the 10 Golden Rules of Competitiveness.
Create a stable and predictable legislative and administrative environment.
Ensure speed, transparency and accountability in the administration.
Pledge to maintain budget, fiscal and debt discipline.
Diversify the economy, from a sectorial and geographical point of view.
Invest in traditional and advanced infrastructure, logistics and the linkage of activities.
Support medium sized enterprises, with home grown technology and export orientation.
Balance aggressiveness on international markets with attractiveness for added value activities in order to sustain a current account surplus.
Preserve the industrial base of the nation, and the “made in…”
Focus on a dual track education system (apprenticeship and higher education) to foster the employability of the younger generation and reduce youth unemployment.
Promote a science and entrepreneurial culture.
Maintain social consensus on policies and social mobility upward.
Return the tangible signs of competitiveness success to the people (better roads, hospitals, schools, housing, etc.) as a symbol of achieved prosperity.
Source: Garelli, S. (2014). The Fundamentals and History of Competitiveness. In IMD World Competitiveness
Yearbook (pp. 488-503). Lausanne: IMD World Competitiveness Center.