15 Sep 2016
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US Competitiveness Report Sees ‘A Nation Divided’

Re: Mihir Desai

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Harvard Business School today released "Problems Unsolved and a Nation Divided," a comprehensive analysis of the state of US competitiveness in 2016, based on five years of the US Competitiveness Project's multi-faculty research.

The US Competitiveness Project was launched in 2011 as a data-driven, fact-based, nonpartisan effort to understand what makes the US economy competitive. In 2016, with US economic performance lackluster and the public discourse in this critical presidential campaign muddled, the Project’s lead faculty members, professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin, believe it is imperative to provide an unbiased, nonpartisan, data-driven analysis of what truly ails the US economy and to offer realistic steps to restore US competitiveness.

The new report is based on findings of the 2016 HBS survey on US competitiveness administered to HBS alumni worldwide, HBS students, and members of the American public.

According to the authors, America retains and enjoys many strengths. However, various economic indicators show that the US economy has failed to deliver strong growth and shared prosperity for nearly two decades. “These issues predate the Great Recession,” say Porter and Rivkin. “The weak economic recovery we now see is due to long-term structural issues, which are further compounded by political paralysis.”

The report draws attention to the choices facing the nation in order to rebuild a strong American economy. It calls for a national economic strategy for America and proposes federal policy priorities that can form the core of such a strategy. Further, it identifies corporate and personal tax reform as promising first steps in the strategy. However, the authors warn that it will be impossible to solve the issues besetting the US economy and bring prosperity to millions of Americans if the United States remains mired in crippling political gridlock and vicious rhetoric.

In addition to government, business must take responsibility for restoring US competitiveness, say Porter and Rivkin. In the report, they outline what business leaders can do within their own companies, as well as in their communities, to strengthen America's business environment.

Read more news coverage of the report here:

Political Paralysis Is Biggest Threat to US Competitiveness (Bloomberg)

Harvard study shows US losing competitive edge (CNBC Squawk Box video)

US political system risks economic competitiveness, study finds (Financial Times)

Harvard Gives the US an ‘F’ (Fortune)

US Competitiveness Report Sees "A Nation Divided" (Harvard Gazette)

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