Revisiting an Evasive Concept: Introduction to the Special Issue on Competitiveness

  • Karl AigingerEmail author


The term competitiveness stems from the analysis of firms and is usually thought to be well defined at the firm level. Today, however, the notion competitiveness has become a prominent concept in the assessment of countries, regions and locations. The competitive advantage of nations and the competitiveness of locations have become important topics in economic policy. Interest in this field has been notably stimulated by the work of Michael Porter. Although the diversity of approaches presented in this issue may appear large to the reader, it is in reality dwarfed by the multiplicity of concepts, articles and books which have been written in reference to the term competitiveness. The vagueness of the general term, the lack of theoretical background, implicit preferences and prejudices, and finally the scope of policy recommendations made in reference to this term have induced outstanding researchers to warn that the term competitiveness of a nation could be dangerous, obsessive, elusive or meaningless.1 The articles presented in this volume share some elements of this critique, but also demonstrate that research is being continued, and that it is indeed relevant to the design and evaluation of economic policy, most notably, the so-called Lisbon Strategy of the European Union.


competitiveness welfare evaluation innovation Lisbon Strategy 

JEL Classifications

F10 F15 F43 O31 O40 O57 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Austrian Institute of Economic Research WIFOViennaAustria

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