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Criterion of the Month archive

The World Competitiveness Newsletter is written by Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, Dr Christos Cabolis, Chief Economist or Dr José Caballero, Senior Economist. It includes information drawn from the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.

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January 2020

Strong institutions alleviate uncertainty

The beginning of the year is the time where think-tanks and economists predict the trends, or forces, that will shape economic and social outcomes over the next twelve months.

February 2020

Social justice: Bridge over troubled waters
How cohesive a society is depends on the attitudes that manage the relationships among different social groups. Yet, these relationships are often dominated by a majority group or coalitions of similarly minded groups over at least one dimension.

March 2020

Reflections on the economic implications of COVID-19

Coronavirus entered our lives and our vocabulary in just December 2019 but has quickly become a daily feature of them, and a global public health crisis. 

April 2020

The cost of being too shy

A recession seems inevitable.


January 2019

Sustainability Resolution 

We all strive for new beginnings and the start of a new year provides the best opportunity to align such deeds. It is manifested with the ancient tradition of making resolutions, promises that is, to align our behavior in such a way as to accomplish a positive target.

February 2019

Corruption, Democracy, and Political Uncertainty

On January 29th, Transparency International released the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018 revealing an alarming association between corruption and the level of democracy.

March 2019

Please tell us: What makes your country appealing?

This is indeed what we ask the mid- and upper-level executives who receive our questionnaire around this time each year. You can imagine…The executives who decide to respond must reflect on what makes their economy attractive as a destination for capital, talent, as well as ideas.

April 2019

“Ground control to Major Tom”: New frontiers in space

Conquering space is a perennial aspiration of humans. From Daedalus and Icarus in the Greek mythology to “From the Earth to the Moon” and its sequel “Around the Moon” by Jules Verne in the mid-19th century, the narrative was always there: Capturing higher and higher distances from the earth and ultimately reaching to the moon. Yet it took about another century to make Jules Verne’s novel, a reality.

May 2019

In Anticipation of the 2019 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook

At the end of the month, the IMD World Competitiveness Center will launch the 2019 competitiveness rankings. Which economies do you think that will be in these three places in 2019?

June 2019

What is the competitiveness performance of the different regions in 2019?

On May 28, the IMD World Competitiveness Center launched the 2019 rankings. Singapore ranked as the world’s most competitive economy for the first time since 2010, Hong Kong remained in the second spot while the United States slipped from the spot.

August 2019

Do Social and Environmental issues affect the talent appeal in a country?

The IMD World Talent Ranking captures a country’s efforts to develop local talent while being able to attract overseas staff. It describes the quality of the talent pool available in an economy. The ranking assesses 63 countries using three factors. 

September 2019

Incorporating industrial robots in the forthcoming IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking

On September 26, we are launching the third edition of the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (WDCR). It assesses an economy’s aptitude to adapt and explore digital technologies that transform business models, government practices and the society in general.


October 2019

30th anniversary of the IMD World Competitiveness Center

2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the IMD World Competitiveness Center.

For the past 30 years, we have spearheaded research on how nations and enterprises compete to lay the foundations for future prosperity.

The competitiveness of nations is probably one of the most significant developments in modern management, and IMD intends to remain the leader in this field.

November 2019

The IMD World Talent Ranking 2019

Now in its sixth year, the IMD World Talent Ranking scores countries across three factors of investment and development, readiness and appeal.

December 2019

The Gift of Longevity

With the Holiday Season around the corner, wellbeing wishes for the New Year are in order. Paramount among them is “good health.” In fact, promoting healthy living is a prerequisite to enhancing prosperity, a point that is the focus of the third UN Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG): “good health and well-being.”



January 2018

The German election & sentiments on migration

Mrs. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, has led her country in successful economic performance since she took office in 2005. Indeed, Germany exhibits increasing values in the traditional economic indicators. 

February 2018

Gender inequality and R&D | Do competitive economies employ the highest share of women researchers?

Two years ago, the United Nations set a thought-provoking and aspiring agenda for sustainable development to be accomplished by 2030.



Gender parity: Key trends in women's empowerment

To celebrate the many accomplishments by women and acknowledge the on-going efforts for gender parity, this issue of the Criterion of the Month explores the evolution of three key areas of women participation and decision-making in the last decade.



 What makes countries happier?

Research on what affects the levels of happiness of an individual, organization or country has been growing across different academic fields because of its importance to managers, business leaders and policy makers alike. The relationship between different measurements of income and happiness is multi-faceted. 

May 2018

IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook: The 30th Edition

In less than three weeks, the IMD World Competitiveness Center will launch the 2018 competitiveness rankings. Every year in May there is a lot of work and a tremendous effort to cope with deadlines, meticulous reporting and checking of the data. There is also excitement about the upcoming results. This year, the enthusiasm and anticipation are even higher because this year the Center will launch the 30th edition of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook!

June 2018

Trumponomics, or the need for precision and careful examination of data

The USA has always been in the top of the competitiveness ranking. Since 1997, US ranked first 16 times out of 22, and never below 4th. Thus, being in the top place is neither unfamiliar nor infrequent. Its strengths focus on two factors: economic performance and infrastructure. And in the current edition, these two factors were indeed the ones that were the highest ranked in the profile of the country.

July 2018

Future Readiness and Productivity relationship in the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking

The second edition of the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking  (WDCR)assesses the capacity of 63 economies to adapt and explore digital technologies. In this edition of the Criterion of the Month we will explore what is the correlation between the Future Readiness factor and indicators of productivity.

August 2018

Corruption and ethical practices perceptions

The issues of governance scandals and corporate control failures are perennial and persistent.In this edition of the criterion of the month we present the relationship between variables from our dataset that capture the perception on corruption and practices within firms.

October 2018

The Brazilian election through the lens of competitiveness

The Brazilian voters casted their ballots in the first round of the presidential elections this past Sunday and will return for the final second round on October 28. There is a lot of interest and many articles in the popular press and social media about the election. Brazil is after all, the 5th country in the world by population and the 8th by GDP. In addition, following recent global trends, this election has been divisive and polarized.


November 2018

Where to go on vacation?
Is it possible to think of Finland, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and New Zealand together as a group when you are thinking of your next vacation? Can we add to this group Australia, Canada, Iceland and Norway? In short, the answer to this question is: yes! Let me explain by providing a rather personal take on a day at the IMD World Competitiveness Center.

December 2018

Philanthropy & Competitiveness

December has arrived! And the winter holidays are just around the corner! A big part of the world celebrates, families and friends get together, communities convene to observe rituals and enjoy each other. An important part of these traditions is the exchange of presents. This is also the time when households decide to donate to charities, which focus on issues of their concern. It is not surprising that non-profit organizations intensify their appeals for donations to interested individuals and philanthropy funds. After all, giving and sharing is the underlying principle of the season.


January 2017

The continuous attractiveness of Switzerland: Talent availability and other sources of competitiveness

Why do MNCs such as Philip Morris and ABB choose Switzerland as a base for their operations? There are several significant factors that define the attractiveness of Switzerland.



Business efficiency and productivity (Part I) 

The actions and policies of government and their outcomes (e.g., infrastructure indicators) affect the efficiency and productivity of the private sector. In this Criterion of the Month, we assess some of the key indicators driving business efficiency and productivity.

March 2017

Competitiveness and gender parity: A long way to go

March 8 marks International Women’s Day: a celebration of the many accomplishments by women as well as the acknowledgement of on-going efforts for gender parity in the social, political and economic spheres. In this issue of the Criterion of the Month, the IMD World Competitive Center recognizes the International Women’s Day by exploring the relationship between competitiveness and different criteria related to women’s activities.

April 2017

Can competitiveness data predict the French election? 

April 23 is the first round of the French Presidential election. As with many recent elections, there is an intense interest in the outcome, especially with Le Pen as a contender and with Trump and Brexit still making daily headlines.


May 2017

A new publication at the IMD World Competitiveness Center: The World Digital Competitiveness Ranking

Technology changes at great speed and affects not only how businesses function but also how countries perform today and evolve in the future. From 3D-printing, robotics, and neuro-technology to digital-currencies and e-participation the landscape of current capabilities and future prospects changes swiftly. In order for the decision makers in both public and private sectors of an economy to address this rapid transformation, it needs to be quantified and accounted for.

June 2017

Do more adaptive economies exhibit higher productivity?

The new ranking recently released by the IMD World Competitiveness Center prompts to a host of different inquiries, particularly with respect to the new criteria utilized.



Brexit: A Year After

It is a little more than a year since Britain surprised pundits and analysts by voting to exit the European Union. In the last few months, economic and financial publications have been comparing the evolution of different dimensions of the economy. The general picture is not encouraging with consumer prices rising above the Bank of England’s target, real weekly earnings decreasing, and the pound declining in comparison to the dollar and other currencies.

August 2017

Business efficiency and productivity (part II)

In this Criterion of the Month, we continue to explore the relationship between business efficiency and productivity, and the institutional framework.

September 2017

Education dilemmas in the digital era

September marks the beginning of the academic year for most of the northern hemisphere. It is the time to make decisions over what courses to take and which disciplines to study. 

October 2017

Government transparency: Are we better off than a decade ago?

Transparency on the government level has been a key issue for more than a decade. Theoretical and empirical work along with the advocacy of NGOs have strengthened the idea, have suggested ways to measure it, and have kept the issue on the forefront of any discussion about the necessary conditions that a high-quality government must follow.



Has the world become more globalized?

How open an economy is affects its size and the level of competitivenessof the country. The free flow of goods and services, talent, and ideas benefits economies in many ways from making them more efficient to transferring know-how, to facilitating the adoption of new technologies. 

December 2017

Is the flow of skilled labor related to the agility of an economy?

eflecting on the popular topics for 2017, two themes stand out among those which captured the interest of researchers and commentators. First, the extent to which economies successfully address the future loss of employment due to the introduction of new technologies; and second, the benefits associated with the general concept of globalization.




Can Executives Predict The Market?

In the 2015 IMD World Competitiveness Executive Survey, we asked our executives to predict their country’s stock market performance for the year. This was a pioneering study trying to assess the forecasting ability of business executives, or alternatively the importance of sentiment in stock markets. 



Competitiveness and Digital Challenges

The IMD World Competitiveness Center recently partnered with Accenture (Germany and Switzerland) to conduct a study about digitization trends and the digital challenges that German and Swiss companies are facing. The study incorporates 247 survey responses from German executives and 396 responses from Swiss executives. We assess the impact of digitization on the competitive context and the digital practices that the competitive firms adopt in such environments. 

March 2016


Innovation, values and high-tech trade

The IMD World Competitiveness Center in partnership with Thailand’s Department of Trade Negotiations (Ministry of Commerce) recently organized an event aimed at improving Thailand’s competitiveness. The three-day event included several interrelated activities and culminated in a highly dynamic and interactive workshop – a “Mega Dive.”


April 2016

Social disparities and competitiveness

Data show that a structural transformation is a precondition for increasing competitiveness. Such transformation entails enabling all individual members of society to fully participate and contribute to economic activities.

May 2016


IMD Releases Its 2016 World Competitiveness Ranking 

The USA has surrendered its status as the world’s most competitive economy after being overtaken by China Hong Kong and Switzerland, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Center


June 2016


Policy stability and government efficiency

There are certain particularities that underline the competitiveness of countries. We consider these characteristics as attractiveness indicators and asked respondents to our Executive Opinion Survey to select the top five indicators (from a list of 15) for their respective economies.

September 2016



IMD World Competitiveness Ranking: Survey and hard data

Following up on feedback from several readers, in this criterion of the month we explore the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking’s core components: its hard and survey data elements. 


October 2016


Structure and Drivers of Digital Competitiveness

Using the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook’s data for 2016, we develop a measure of Digital Competitiveness; that is, the adequacy of the different components of an economy’s structure for facilitating its digitalization.

November 2016


The 2016 IMD World Talent Report

A major global study has identified crisis-riddled Europe as home to nine of the 10 economies best equipped to develop, attract and retain business talent.






Brain drain, is it beneficial?

At first glance, it seems obvious that brain drain is a significant cost to emerging economies. However, some academic observers (e.g., Mountford, 1997; Beine, Docquier and Rapoport, 2001) have argued that brain drain is beneficial. They posit that the possibility of migration encourages investment in education because of the potential high returns abroad from educated migrants. Arguably, brain drain can thus eventually increase income equality in the country of origin.

February 2015


How will currency fluctuations impact competitiveness?

The latest currency fluctuation wave in Europe will indeed impact several competitiveness criteria. In terms of the World Competitiveness Yearbook hard statistics, such an impact will be felt in the long-term. Changes in exchange rates will resonate, for example, in indicators such as stock prices and export sales for 2016 (if not later).

March 2015

Revisiting the competitiveness concept

Concepts and ideas “travel” (Said, 1983). These building blocks of intellectual activity reflect existing societal conditions. Initial circumstances, however, evolve, and thus concepts and ideas come under scrutiny—what was an appropriate understanding of specific historical conditions enters a reinterpretation phase.

April 2015

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015: New Criteria

Competitiveness is dynamic. Such nature makes it necessary to constantly incorporate new indicators to ensure the continuous relevance of our research. In preparation for the upcoming Yearbook we have therefore initiated the review of the current criteria employed to assess competitiveness. Although our list of indicators provides a robust view of the competitiveness of countries, we feel the need to strengthen specific aspects of the analysis. Below we detail the new criteria being considered for the 2015 Yearbook.

May 2015

IMD Releases its 2015 World Competitiveness Ranking

The USA continues to top the ranking; Asia experiences mixed results; and large emerging economies mostly linger.

June 2015

Company agility and competitiveness

Our recently published 2015 World Competitiveness Ranking reiterated the fundamental role of business efficiency in driving country competitiveness: nine out of the top 10 countries from the overall ranking achieved a top-10 position in the business efficiency factor. By business efficiency we mean the extent to which the national environment encourages enterprises to perform in an innovative, profitable and responsible manner. Essential to business efficiency is company agility: the ability of companies to adapt to changes through the adoption of proactive practices and behaviors that lead to sustainable value creation.


September 2015

Business competitiveness survey highlights

In our previous Criterion of the Month (June 2015), we invited you to complete our Business Competitiveness survey. We take this opportunity to share the highlights of the survey results. We received 67 responses representing 67 companies from a range of industries including manufacturing, mining, pharmaceutical, communications and the financial sector. There are 23 countries represented in the sample including Azerbaijan, Brazil, Denmark and Thailand.

October 2015

Immigration, skills and productivity

Competitiveness greatly depends on the extent to which governments facilitate an environment conducive to business. One key indicator in this dimension is the impact of immigration laws; that is, whether or not immigration laws curtail the ability of enterprises to conduct their activities effectively. We partly capture the effect of stricter immigration policies through the IMD World Competitiveness Center's executive opinion survey, designed for the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.

November 2015

The 2015 IMD World Talent Report

The IMD World Competitiveness Center is delighted to present its IMD World Talent Report 2015. The report includes a talent ranking for all countries that are part of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (61 countries as of this year). The data are gathered from the Center’s extensive database, which encompasses 20 years of competitiveness-related data. All data employed in the development of the report can be accessed through the World Competitiveness Online website.




Over educated?

Most countries complain that “under education” is a major hindrance to their competitiveness. The latest PISA report conducted by the OECD outlines again the strong performance of Korea, part of China, Switzerland and Finland on students achievement in sciences. The criterion of this month corroborates the same trends, although taking a wider scope on education and competitiveness. But could “better” be an issue? Are we now – sometimes – overeducating the next generation?

February 2014

Do Central Banks Have a Positive Effect on the Economy?

The turbulences in currency markets these past weeks highlight once more the importance of macroeconomic factors on corporate performance. This time, triggered by a devaluation of the Argentinean peso, which had been artificially pegged to the dollar, a mild contagion spread, first to Latin America, and then to the rest. For firms with economic ties to the region, the volatility of emerging market currencies had a negative effect on stock returns.

March 2014

How important is healthcare to preserve the competitiveness of a country?

Moreover, what has been the impact of the financial crisis on the attention that governments have given to medical care to the population?
Since 2008, the average economy analyzed in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook has increased its total health expenditure per capita by 30%. 

April 2014

Social cohesion - Why it matters

The recent social upheavals in countries as distant as Venezuela or the Ukraine should be no surprise to anyone that has analyzed in detail the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook for the last years. Both countries sit at the bottom of our sample of countries, and especially so in criteria related to business and government efficiency. Be it either cause or an effect or other problems, truth is that these two countries have shown the damaging consequences of a lack of social cohesion. Ultimately, societies that do not build inclusive institutions end up confronting one part of the society with another.

May 2014

IMD releases its 2014 World Competitiveness Yearbook ranking

"The overall competitiveness story for 2014 is one of continued success in the US, partial recovery in Europe, and struggles for some large emerging markets,” said Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center. “There is no single recipe for a country to climb the competitiveness rankings, and much depends on the local context.”

June 2014

Competitiveness and Political System

Is there a relationship between political systems and competitiveness? Does democracy helps or hinders competitiveness? These are recurrent questions in our discussions with executives and politicians worldwide. Let us try to provide some insights on this issue.

September 2014

Country competitiveness and perceptions about the quality of life it offers

The executive survey employed in the development of the IMD world competitiveness ranking entices executives to reflect about the level (whether they consider it high or low) of their country’s quality of life. Intuitively one may conclude ex ante that the GDP of a particular country determines its quality of life. And yet, as we will observe shortly, GDP cannot fully explain certain patterns in the data.