Survey Reveals Depths of US Competitiveness Problem
HBS alumni overwhelmingly believe that the US is losing its competitive edge in the global economy, according to survey results revealed today at a press conference in the nation’s capital. Over the next three years, 71 percent of nearly 10,000 respondents expect the country’s competitive position to decline.
Along with HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, Professors Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin presented the findings at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Porter and Rivkin designed and conducted the survey, sent to some 50,000 HBS alumni last fall.
The survey is part of the School’s ongoing US Competitiveness Project, which defines competitiveness as “the ability of companies in the United States to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for Americans.”
While HBS alumni widely shared a negative view of the country’s competitive prospects, Porter remained cautiously optimistic. “The vast amount of data from this survey highlights the need for business leaders, policymakers, and academics to collaborate on practical ways to make progress,” something well within the nation’s reach, he added. In fact, the Project seeks to inspire corrective action among business leaders and policymakers alike with in-depth analysis and specific recommendations, many of which will be detailed in a special March 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review.
What 10,000 alumni told us about US Competitiveness. Thanks to everyone for sharing your insights: http://bit.ly/yxhOPm #USComp— Twitter API (@twitterapi) January 18, 2012
Alumni respondents received an early preview of the results and followed the announcement both online and in person. Michael Jennings (MBA 1968), who attended the press conference, suggested afterward that the March HBR should be sent to key members of Congress and leading Washington business groups, such as the US Chamber of Commerce. “We need to get action ideas into the hands of decision makers,” said Jennings.
“The US is losing out on business-location decisions at an alarming rate, and those activities being offshored are more job-rich than those coming in,” said Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor and head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. “However, the United States retains its core strengths in a number of important areas, such as university education, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which means that we have the resources to reverse this trend.”
Rivkin, the Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration, noted that “one of the most important aspects of this survey was its effort to pinpoint the roots of the country’s competitiveness problem. The findings allow us to assess whether individual elements of the US business environment, such as the complexity of our tax code or our K-12 education system, strengthens or weakens US competitiveness. This provides important insight for leaders who are seeking ways to boost America’s long-run prosperity.”
Read the complete survey results at www.hbs.edu/competitiveness/survey/.