Scholars, policymakers, and media have increasingly focused on national competitiveness in the context of globalization and economic growth. This heightened attention underscores the importance of the many indices ranking government performance and effectiveness across countries. The four indices, government efficiency, public institutions, government effectiveness, and quality of government, have dominated this field. However, we found serious limitations they reveal, in terms of analytical soundness and policy relevance and usefulness. This paper systematically provides such a critique and lays the groundwork for thinking about government capacity in a new way: in terms of government competitiveness. So doing, this paper contributes to the literature about national competitiveness, governance quality, administrative reform, and development studies.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
This proposed definition is however a rough draft, as the first step toward a complete and final definition of GC. After examining limitations of existing indices measuring government capacity and performance, it will be more improved in the future research.
Iqbal and Shah (2008) estimate the cost of purchasing access to the WGI’s commercially provided sources is about $90,000.
For the specific debate about the World Bank WGI, see Kaufmann et al. (2007).
In his study (2013), Fukuyama uses output and outcome interchangeably.
Including only output sides would be more serious problems when we consider how hard to separate the role of government from other factors, such as the role of markets, civil societies, etc.
Unlike other indices, the QoG does not provide the rankings of each category, in fact. With the average values of the 106 QoG variables (4 missing data), we calculate the rankings.
The QGI dataset is most disaggregated in order to make researchers easily select the sub-variables which fit into their studies.
Agnafors, M. (2013). Quality of government: Toward a more complex definition. American Political Science Review, 107, 433–445.
Arndt, C. (2008). The politics of governance rating. International Public Management Journal, 11, 275–297.
Arndt, C., & Oman, C. (2006). Uses and abuses of governance indicators. OECD development study. Retrieved from http://www.cityindicators.org/Deliverables/OECD%20Report%20on%20Indicators_1-2-2007-83368.pdf.
Campbell, D., & Fiske, D. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81–105.
Cooley, A., & Snyder, J. (Eds.). (2015). Ranking the world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Davis, K., Fisher, A., Kingsbury, B., & Merry, S. (Eds.). (2012). Governance by indicators: Global power through quantification and rankings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fukuyama, F. (2013). What is governance? Center for global development working paper 314. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.
Heinrich, C. J., & Lynn, L. E., Jr. (2000). Governance and performance: New perspectives. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Ho, A., & Im, T. (2012). Defining a new concept of government competitiveness (Jeongbu Kyoungjaengryukeui Gaenyun Jeonglym: Sigangwa Gongganeui Gwanjeomyeseo). The Korean Journal of Public Administration (Haengjeongnonchong), 50, 1–34.
Ho, A., & Im, T. (2015). Challenges in building effective and competitive government in developing countries. The American Review of Public Administration, 45(3), 263–280.
International Institute for Management Development (IMD). (2014). IMD world competitiveness yearbook 2014. Lausanne: IMD World Competitiveness Center.
Iqbal, K., & Shah, A. (2008). How do worldwide governance indicators measure up? World Bank working paper. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Kaufmann, D, Kraay, A., & Mastruzzi, M. (2007). The worldwide governance indicators project: Answering the critics. World Bank policy research working paper 4149. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Kaufmann, D., Kraay, A., & Mastruzzi, M. (2008). Governance matters VII: Aggregate and individual governance indicators 1996–2007. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Kaufmann, D, Kraay, A., & Mastruzzi, M. (2010). The worldwide governance indicators: Methodology and analytical issues. World Bank policy research working paper 5430. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Knack, S. (2006). Measuring corruption in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: A critique of the cross-county indicators. World Bank policy research development working paper 3968. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Krugman, P. (1994). Competitiveness: A dangerous obsession. Foreign Affairs, 73, 28–44.
Lall, S. (2001). Competitiveness indices and developing countries: An economic evaluation of the global competitiveness report. World Development, 29, 1501–1525.
Langbein, L., & Knack, S. (2010). The worldwide governance indicators: Six, one, or none? Journal of Development Studies, 46, 350–370.
Linder, A., & Santiso, C. (2003). Not everything that counts can be counted: A critical look at risk ratings and governance indicators. Nordic Journal of Political Economy, 29, 105–132.
Ochel, W., & Rohn, O. (2006). Ranking of countries—The WEF, IMD, fraser and heritage indices. CESifo DICE report, 4, 48–60.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2003). OECD environmental indicators: Development, measurement, and use (OECD reference paper). Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Podsakoff, P., & Organ, D. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management, 12, 531–544.
Putnam, R., Leonardi, D., & Nanetti, R. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Rothstein, B., & Teorell, J. (2008). What is quality of government? A theory of impartial government institutions. Governance, 21, 165–190.
Sartori, G. (1970). Concept misformation in comparative politics. The American Political Science Review, 64, 1033–1053.
Talbott, W. (2005). Which Rights should be Universal? New York: Oxford University Press.
Teorell, J., Dahlberg, S., Holmberg, S., Rothstein, B., Hartmann, F., & Svensson, R. (2015). The quality of government standard dataset, version Jan15. Gothenburg: The Quality of Government Institute.
Thomas, M. A. (2010). What do the worldwide governance indicators measure? European Journal of Development Research, 22, 31–54.
Van de Walle, S. (2006). The state of the world’s bureaucracies. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 8, 437–448.
Weiss, T. (2000). Governance, good governance and global governance: Conceptual and actual challenges. Third World Quarterly, 21, 759–814.
World Bank. (1998). Assessing aid—What works, what doesn’t and why. Washington, DC: World Bank.
World Economic Forum (WEF). (2014). WEF global competitiveness report. Geneva: World Economic Forum.
An earlier version of this study was presented at the 76th Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration, Chicago, IL, USA, March 6–10, 2015 and at the 2015 Korean Association for Public Administration International Conference, Sangmyung University, South Korea, July 16–18, 2015.
An erratum to this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-017-1613-5.
About this article
Cite this article
Im, T., Choi, Y. Rethinking National Competitiveness: A Critical Assessment of Governmental Capacity Measures. Soc Indic Res 135, 515–532 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-016-1494-z
- Government competitiveness
- National competitiveness
- Government efficiency
- Government effectiveness
- Quality of government
- Comparative public administration